Interventions on Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools: A Systematic Review

Elisa Cantone 1, *, Anna P Piras 1, Marcello Vellante 1, Antonello Preti 1, Sigrun Daníelsdóttir 2, Ernesto D’Aloja 1, Sigita Lesinskiene 3, Mathhias C Angermeyer 1, 4, Mauro G Carta 2, Dinesh Bhugra 5
1 Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy
2 Directorate of Health Barónsstíg 47, IS-105 Reykjavík, Iceland
3 Vilnius University, Clinic of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius, Lithuania
4 Center for Public Mental Health, Gosim Austria
5 Institute of Psychiatry (KCL), DeCrespigny Park, London, United Kingdom

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© Cantone et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy; Tel: 070.6093498; E-mail:


Background : bullying (and cyberbullying) is a widespread phenomenon among young people and it is used to describe interpersonal relationships characterized by an imbalance of power. In this relationships often show aggressive behavior and intentional "harm doing" repeated over time. The prevalence of bullying among youth has been reported to vary widely among countries (5.1%-41.4%) and this behavior seems generally higher among student boys than girls. Several school interventions have been developed to reduce bullying, but reported inconsistent results possibly related to limitations in the study design or to other methodological shortcomings. Aims : evaluating randomized-controlled trials (RTCs) conducted between 2000 and 2013 to assess the effectiveness of school interventions on bullying and cyberbullying. Methods : a systematic search of the scientific literature was conducted on Pubmed/Medline and Ebsco online databases. We also contacted experts in the field of preventive bullying research. Results : 17 studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies did not show positive effects in the long term; the interventions focused on the whole school were more effective in reducing bullying than interventions delivered through classroom curricula or social skills training alone. Conclusion : while there is evidence that programs aimed at reducing bullying can be effective in the short term, their long-term effectiveness has not been established, and there are important differences in the results based on gender, age and socio-economic status of participants. Internal inconsistency in the findings of some studies, together with the wide variability of experimental designs and lack of common standardized measures in outcome evaluation, are important limitations in this field of research.

Keywords: Bullying, cyber bullying, randomized controlled trials, school.