Learners 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 learners in all public, private and Catholic middle and high schools in Franklin County, Ohio.
About 30% of middle school students and 23% 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% of middle school learners reported substance use. Among high school learners, 32% drank alcohol, 14% smoked cigarettes and 16% used marijuana.
There was a link between bullying involvement and substance use, the researchers found.
Bullies and substance abuse
For example, marijuana use was reported by only 1.6% of middle school learners not involved in bullying, compared with 11.4% of bullies, 6.1% of bully-victims and 2.4% of victims.
Marijuana use was reported by 13.3% of high school learners not involved in bullying, compared with 31.7% of bullies, 29.2% of bully-victims, and 16.6% of victims.
Similar results were found for alcohol and cigarette use, according to the study in Addictive Behaviors.
"Our findings suggest that one deviant behaviour 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."
Bullying is not normal behaviour
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