Kids Who Bully May Be More Likely to Smoke, Drink

FRIDAY March 9, 2012 -- Middle and high school students who bully their classmates are more likely to use cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana than other students, according to a new study.

Ohio State University researchers examined bullying and substance use among more than 74,000 students in all public, private and Catholic middle and high schools in Franklin County, Ohio, which includes Columbus.

About 30 percent of middle school students and 23 percent of high school students were deemed to be bullies, bullying victims or bully-victims (those who are both perpetrators and victims).

Substance use was defined as smoking, drinking or using marijuana at least once a month. Fewer than 5 percent of middle school students reported substance use. Among high school students, 32 percent drank alcohol, 14 percent smoked cigarettes and 16 percent used marijuana.

There was a link between bullying involvement and substance use, the researchers found.

For example, marijuana use was reported by only 1.6 percent of middle school students not involved in bullying, compared with 11.4 percent of bullies, 6.1 percent of bully-victims and 2.4 percent of victims.

Marijuana use was reported by 13.3 percent of high school students not involved in bullying, compared with 31.7 percent of bullies, 29.2 percent of bully-victims, and 16.6 percent of victims.

Similar results were found for alcohol and cigarette use, according to the study in the April issue of Addictive Behaviors.

"Our findings suggest that one deviant behavior may be related to another," lead author Kisha Radliff, an assistant professor of school psychology, said in a university news release. "For example, youth who bully others might be more likely to also try substance use. The reverse could also be true in that youth who use substances might be more likely to bully others."

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about bullying.

Posted: March 2012


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