Study Finds Link Between School Bullies and Substance Use
Students who bully their classmates are more likely to use cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, compared with their peers who aren’t bullies, a new study suggests.
“Our findings suggest that one deviant behavior may be related to another,” lead author Kisha Radliff of Ohio State University said in a 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.”
Newswise reports the researchers did not find as strong a link between bullying victims and substance use.
The researchers reviewed a survey of almost 75,000 students, which included questions on bullying and substance use. The survey found bullying was more common among middle school students than among high school students, and that substance use was more common among high schoolers.
Only 1.6 percent of middle school students not involved in bullying reported marijuana use, compared with 11.4 percent of bullies. Among high school students, 13.3 percent who were not involved in bullying used marijuana, compared with 31.7 percent of bullies. The study found similar results for alcohol and cigarettes.
“Many schools are mandating anti-bullying programs and policies, and we think they need to take this opportunity to address other forms of deviant behavior, such as substance use,” Radliff said. “If we can intervene with bullies while they’re in middle school, we may be able to help them before they start experimenting with substance use.”
The study appears in Addictive Behaviors.