Bullying Does Not Lead to Higher Rates of Substance Abuse

11 Mar

By University of Texas at Dallas


A study from the University of Texas at Dallas notes that being bullied does not necessarily lead to higher rates of substance abuse. Researchers did find that kids who had experienced higher levels of victimization did smoke cigarettes or use alcohol at higher rates than their high school peers.

Being bullied can hurt young children in many ways, but a new UT Dallas study found that it does not lead to later substance abuse.

The research by three criminologists in UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) discovered that students who were bullied in third grade did not have a greater risk of using drugs or alcohol by ninth grade.

But the researchers found that children who had experienced the highest level of victimization smoked cigarettes or used alcohol at higher rates than high school peers. The study noted that experimentation with drugs and alcohol is common among adolescents regardless of whether they had been bullied.

“The findings speak to the necessity of continuing to encourage meaningful substance use prevention programs during adolescence and making sure students have the resilience skills necessary to stay away from substances,” said Dr. Nadine Connell, assistant professor of criminologyand lead author of the study. “Early in-school victimization may, however, have other consequences that should be explored.”

The study, published in the journal Victims & Offenders, used longitudinal data from 763 students in a Northeastern U.S. school district.

Connell worked with co-authors Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of criminology and director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies in EPPS, and Dr. Alex Piquero, Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology and associate dean for graduate programs in EPPS.

The three researchers published another recent study that found that relatively minor events in a child’s life can help predict bullying behavior. The events included a new sibling, an ill sibling, failing grades, feeling unpopular with peers and being bullied at a young age.

That study, published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, also used data from the Northeastern U.S. school district.

“This speaks to the importance early life events can have on adolescent experiences and the need for early intervention when problems first arise,” Connell said.

Research on bullying has focused on the consequences of victimization. The new research advances the understanding of the bullies themselves, Connell said. Read More…

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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in General


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