A new study suggests both school bullies and their victims are likely to abuse alcohol after a bullying episode.
University of Cincinnati researchers examined bullying, recent alcohol use and heavy drinking episodes among more than 54,000 7th – 12th grade students in schools across Greater Cincinnati, including the tri-state regions of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Keith King, Ph.D., along with Rebecca Vidourek, Ph.D., discovered more than 38 percent of students were involved in school violent victimization, defined as ranging from verbal intimidation to threatening with and using a weapon.
Investigators also determined that school violent victimization was associated with increased odds of recent alcohol use and heavy drinking among males and females and across 7th-12th grades.
King and Vidourek said the analysis also found that males, non-whites and junior high school students were more likely to be victimized by bullying.
King adds that junior high and high school students were one-and-a-half times more likely to have abused alcohol if they had been bullied.
“The overall effect of victimization and alcohol use did not differ based on sex, age or race. It has an overall impact on their drinking rates and level of intoxication across all categories,” says King.
“Also, bullies and their victims are reporting similar types of activity in relation to their drinking patterns. We believe the alcohol abuse may often be an effort to escape problems and to self-medicate,” said King.
The UC researchers also found that bullies and victims of bullying were less likely to be engaged in positive activities such as school clubs, sports or community and church organizations.
“The results of this study mirror our past studies in examining adolescent behavior, and how positive connections with schools, families and their communities can positively and significantly impact the social and emotional health of youth,” said King.
King says future studies will closely examine other adolescent drug use besides alcohol.
Source: University of Cincinnati