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Child Bullies More Likely To Abuse Substances

by Landmark Recovery

April 12, 2021
alcohol intoxication

Child Bullies More Likely to Abuse Substances

It’s important to know what to do if your child is a bully so you can nip this undesirable behavior in the bud.

Bullying is distressingly commonplace throughout childhood and adolescence, and it can even continue even adulthood. This bullying seems to happen everywhere – in the playground, in the family home, in the workplace, and in the political arena. It’s well documented that victims of bullying suffer from emotional scars later in life, which increases the likelihood of substance abuse.

According to UNESCO data, a third of the world’s young people experience bullying. In wealthy countries like the US and the UK, socioeconomic status is the main factor of bullying. Resultantly, immigrant-born children are also more likely to be bullied.

The effects of bullying can cause tragedy and devastation. Victims suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Some even commit suicide.

But, a recent study shows that it’s not just the victims of bullying who suffer the consequences. Bullying perpetrators also have a high chance of emotional and behavioral issues, meaning they are most likely to become substance abusers later in life, particularly childhood bullies.

Child Bullies and Substance Abuse

In a post-doctoral research project at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, researchers examined 28 publications on the effects of bullying. Most publications tended to focus on the effects on the victims. In this study, though, the researchers examined the effects of bullying on the perpetrators.

The results of the study found a clear correlation between bullying and consumption of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

These findings are significant. Decreasing rates of bullying will decrease the likelihood of substance abuse in the next generation.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying comes in various forms. This destructive behavior seeks to hurt, intimidate and humiliate vulnerable others.

Behaviors can include:

  • Calling someone names
  • Coercing someone to do something
  • Ganging up on someone
  • Teasing
  • Spreading malicious rumors
  • Isolating or excluding someone
  • Stealing or hiding property
  • Hitting, punching, spitting, or shoving someone

Nowadays, bullying doesn’t just happen in person, with cyberbullying becoming more prevalent.

Cyberbullying includes:

  • Sending cruel and hurtful messages by text, email, or social media
  • Sharing pictures of someone in online forums and being derogatory about them
  • Posing as someone else to spread rumors about a person online

How Common Is Bullying in Schools?

According to the organization Stop Bullying, around 20% of students aged between 12 and 18 experienced bullying in 2019.

As mentioned before, bullying is a global problem. Around one-third of youths around the world experience bullying. This means that a corresponding number of adults will suffer from the long-lasting effects of bullying.

The Effects of Bullying

Bullying is linked to negative side-effects. Rarely does bullying improve the mental health of the victim. Bullied kids tend to:

  • Experience depression and anxiety
  • Be lonely
  • Reduced academic attainment
  • Have health complaints

Some bullied kids can lash out violently such as in school shootings, often perpetrated by kids who have been bullied.

The effects of bullying on the perpetrator are also negative. Child bullies are more likely to:

  • Take drugs and drink with their peers
  • Engage in sexual activity at a young age
  • Have criminal convictions
  • Be abusive in romantic relationships
  • Drop out of school

Who Is More Likely To Bully Others?

According to the 2019 Indicators of School Crime and Safety survey, those who said they were bullied said their bullies:

  • Could influence people to perceive them differently (53%)
  • Were more influential socially (50%)
  • Physically were bigger and stronger (40%)
  • Were more affluent (31%)

Where Does Bullying Happen

Aggressive behavior and bullying are becoming more prevalent in children of school-age in recent years. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t just occur in the playground, it also extends to social media meaning it can continue around the clock.

Is Your Child a Bully?

No one wants to entertain the possibility that their child is bullying other kids. But, if your child is displaying aggressive behaviors towards other kids it could be because they might be:

  • Struggling to regulate their emotions and behavior
  • Suffering from anxiety and depression

Children bully due to an underlying mental health issue rather than because they are “bad”. There could also be more complex factors at play. For example, they might be seeking attention, or perhaps they are trying to fit in with a certain group of friends.

If your child is bullying other kids, they are probably unaware of the impact they are having on their victims.

It’s vital to address the situation immediately, as child bullies display the same risk factors for substance abuse.

Why Are Child Bullies More Likely To Abuse Substances?

There are several theories.

  • It is believed that bullies are more likely to have delinquent peers, in which case they’ll have a higher chance of exposure to substances.
  • People who bully tend to be more aggressive as they are more impulsive and less able to regulate their emotions. These are factors that make a person more susceptible to substance use.
  • Home environment may influence bullying behavior. There might be domestic violence at home, or they could be mimicking a parent being a bully.

What Can You Do?

If your child is bullying others this is one of the risk factors for substance abuse later. It’s vital to minimize the likelihood of teen substance abuse by getting to the bottom of your child’s bullying behavior.

Stop Bullying advise taking immediate action against any form of bullying whatsoever.  The organization recommends consistency is key as is modeling behavior.

Of course, prevention is better than cure. Encourage kids to be happy and do what they love to do. Foster kindness, compassion, and a relationship based on healthy communication and openness. There could be underlying mental health problems if your child is bullying other kids.

Preventing or stopping your child’s bullying can help them to learn to cope with and express their emotions more healthily.

What Comes Next

If you’re suffering from substance-use disorder, we’re here to help you at Landmark Recovery. Our committed team will also help you to explore and address any unresolved issues like childhood bullying so you can leave drink or drugs behind you and reclaim a better life.

Call us today at 888-448-0302 to get things started.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.