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Bullying Linked to Depression and Substance Use in Girls

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Although being a victim of bullying increases teen depression regardless of gender, a new study found it puts girls at additional risk for substance use, Science Daily reported on Jan. 19.

Investigators led by Jeremy Luk, a Ph.D. candidate in child psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, examined cross-sectional data from the 2005/2006 Health Behaviors in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey, a questionnaire given to students in grades 6 through 10 to assess health and well-being in a social context. Roughly 1,500 U.S. students participated in the survey.

The researchers found that, while depression was linked to bullying in both boys and girls, it also increased the risk for substance use in girls.

“Bullying is a serious problem among adolescents,” said Luk. “Previous research has shown that it is associated with loneliness, depression, and suicide. But no previous national studies have identified depression as an explanation for the relationship between victimization from bullying and substance use.”

“If your daughter is a victim of bullying, take it seriously, do all possible to prevent recurrence, and attend to possible depression and substance use,” he concluded.

The article was published in the December 2010 issue of the journal Prevention Science.

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