A study led by the University of Delaware has found new evidence that being bullied in school may have lasting health consequences.
Using observational data collected from a sample of schoolchildren who were studied over several years, researchers reported that kids who were bullied more frequently when they were younger were more likely to use certain drugs by the time they were in high school.
The study, which was published this week in the journal Pediatrics, adds to existing research finding a link between nasty treatment by peers and drug use.
The data came from more than 4,000 students sampled from districts in Los Angeles County, Ca., Birmingham, Alabama, and Houston, Texas, who were studied as they advanced from 5th to 10th grade. Among this racially and ethnically diverse group of students, suffering frequent incidents of "peer victimization" — used to measure how much a student had been bullied — in 5th grade was associated with using alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco in 10th grade.
Studying the same group of kids over time gave the researchers more confidence that bullying may have led to substance use by victims later on, said lead study author Valerie Earnshaw.