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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between witnessing cyberbullying and depressive symptoms and social anxiety among middle school students (N = 146). Students completed questionnaires assessing experiences witnessing cyberbullying, school bullying, depressive symptoms, and social anxiety. Regression analyses revealed that witnessing cyberbullying was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms even after controlling for frequency of witnessing school bullying. Further, for depressive symptoms, the moderating effect of witnessing school bullying was significant, indicating that students who witnessed both cyberbullying and school bullying reported the highest level of depressive symptoms and those that reported not witnessing either type of bullying reported the lowest level. Contrary to our hypotheses, however, we did not find significant effects for social anxiety. Results indicate that witnessing cyberbullying uniquely contributes to depressive symptoms for middle school students and students who witness both cyberbullying and school bullying are at the highest risk for depressive symptoms. Findings suggest the importance of providing programs to support middle school students who witness cyberbullying to reduce the mental health risks associated with being a bystander, particularly for students who also witness school bullying.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling on August 18, 2021, available online: