Methods: Participants were 5645 high school students enrolled in 20 Colorado schools taking part of a randomized clinical trial of a school-based intervention to promote student well-being. Youth completed self-report surveys in Fall 2017 (Time 1-T1) and Spring 2018 (Time 2-T2). Path analysis was used to explore T1 and T2 associations between cyberbullying (e.g., hurtful comments, spread rumors online), cyber-sexual bullying (e.g., share nude pictures, try to get someone to talk about sex,), and alcohol and drug use (future use of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs). The treatment condition and baseline values were controlled for in the model. Multiple imputation was used to handle missing data which allowed us to extract information from the full sample of the study.
Results: Cyberbullying perpetration, cyber-sexual bullying perpetration and alcohol and substance use remained relatively the same over time (b= .40, p<.01; b= .257, p<.01; b= .71, p<.01 ). Consistent with hypothesis, findings indicated that alcohol and substance use in T1 significantly predicted cyber-sexual bullying perpetration (b= .038, p<.05) but not cyberbullying perpetration (b=.045, p=.06) at T2 (controlling for T1). However, T1 cyberbullying perpetration and T1 cyber-sexual perpetration did not significantly predict T2 alcohol and substance use.
Conclusions: Results of the study indicate that students who use alcohol or other substances have an increased likelihood of engaging in cyber-sexual bullying perpetration. The effect that alcohol and substance use have on cyber-sexual bullying prevention is a relevant contribution to future prevention programs among adolescents.