A new study, published this month in Addictive Behaviors, finds that students who are identified as “bullies” are more likely to abuse substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, compared to their non-bullying classmates.
The results of the study, summarized in a post on The Partnership at Drugfree.org, suggest that bullying and substance abuse may be related behaviors. Kisha Radliff, lead author of the study, said that “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.”
The subjects of the study consisted of 75,000 high school and middle school students who answered questions about both bullying and substance abuse. The survey indicated that bullying was more prevalent in middle schools, and found more substance abuse among the high school students. For marijuana in particular, use was found to be around 2% for non-bullies in middle school, compared to 11% among bullies of the same age. A similar disparity was found among high school students, whose substance abuse was found to be around 13% and 32% for non-bullies and bullies, respectively. Based on those results, Radliff stated, “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.”
Photo by Diego Grez