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Teen Bullies May Turn to Crime as Adults

FRIDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Teen bullies are more likely to be criminals when they're adults, a new study finds.

UT Dallas researchers analyzed several decades of data collected from more than 400 men in Britain. All of them had similar working-class backgrounds and most came from two-parent families. They were followed until they were in their mid-50s.

Nearly half of the men who said they were bullies during their teen years engaged in some form of criminal activity -- such as theft, burglary and assault -- when they were adults, according to the study in a recent issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

"We also found that these men were more likely to be repeat offenders and at a much higher rate," study co-author Alex Piquero, a professor of criminology, said in a UT Dallas news release.

Risk factors for being a teen bully also predicted criminal activity as an adult. These factors included poor school performance, impulsivity, poor parental supervision, family disruption and poor living conditions.

The findings suggest that early action to help children at risk of becoming bullies may lower rates of criminal behavior among adults, the researchers said.

"From a policy perspective, if we can address some of these risk factors early and identify children who are at risk of bullying, we can ameliorate adverse outcomes that may occur much later in life," Piquero said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation explains how parents can teach children not to bully.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: UT Dallas, news release, May 9, 2013

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