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School bullies more likely to be substance users, study finds
Date:3/5/2012

substance use was more prevalent among high-school students.

About 30 percent of middle-school students were bullies, victims or bully-victims, compared to 23 percent of those in high school.

Fewer than 5 percent of middle-school youth used cigarettes, alcohol, or marijuana. But among high-school students, about 32 percent reported alcohol use, 14 percent used cigarettes and 16 percent used marijuana.

But substance use varied depending on involvement in bullying, the researchers found.

For example, among middle-school students, only 1.6 percent of those not involved in bullying reported marijuana use. But 11.4 percent of bullies and 6.1 percent of bully-victims used the drug. Findings showed that 2.4 percent of victims were marijuana users.

Among high school students, 13.3 percent of those not involved in bullying were marijuana users compared to 31.7 percent of bullies, 29.2 percent of bully-victims, and 16.6 percent of victims.

Similar results were found for alcohol and cigarette use.

But the percentages tell only part of the story, Radliff said. The researchers also used a statistical analysis that showed that bullies and bully-victims had much higher than expected levels of substance use.

"That suggests there is a relationship between experimenting with substances and engaging in bullying behavior," she said.

Statistically, however, there was no connection between being a victim and substance use among middle-school students, according to Radliff. The use of cigarettes and alcohol was statistically greater for victims in high school, but there was no statistically significant effect on marijuana use.

Nevertheless, it was the bullies and bully-victims who were the most likely to be substance users.

Radliff said these results may lead to ways anti-bullying initiatives can be improved.

"Many schools are mandating anti-bullying programs and policies, and we t
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Contact: Kisha Radliff
KRadliff@ehe.osu.edu
614-292-6485
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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