COLUMBUS, Ohio Middle- and high-school students who bully their classmates are more likely than others to use substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, a new study found.
Researchers found that bullies and bully-victims youth who are both perpetrators and victims were more likely to use substances than were victims and non-involved youth.
"Our findings suggest that one deviant behavior may be related to another," said Kisha Radliff, lead author of the study and assistant professor of school psychology at Ohio State University.
"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."
The researchers didn't find as strong a link between victims of bullying and substance use.
Radliff conducted the study with Joe Wheaton, associate professor in Special Education, and Kelly Robinson and Julie Morris, both former graduate students, all at Ohio State.
Their study appears in the April 2012 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.
Data for the study came from a survey of 74,247 students enrolled in all public, private and Catholic middle and high schools in Franklin County, Ohio (which includes Columbus).
Among the 152 questions on the survey were eight that involved bullying, either as a victim or perpetrator. Students were asked about how often they told lies or spread false rumors about others, pushed people around to make them afraid, or left someone out of a group to hurt them. They were also asked how often they were the victims of such actions.
In addition, the questionnaire asked how often they used cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. For this study, users were defined as those who reported use at least once a month.
Results showed that bullying was more common among middle-school students than those in high school, while
|Contact: Kisha Radliff|
Ohio State University