A new study suggests that both school bullies and their victims share one thing in common - abusing alcohol after a bullying episode.
Keith King, professor of health promotion, and Rebecca Vidourek, assistant professor of health promotion, both from the University of Cincinnati, conducted the study which examined bullying, recent alcohol use and heavy drinking episodes among more than 54,000 7th-through-12th grade students in schools across in various states.
The data was collected by the Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati as part of the 2009-2010 Pride Survey on adolescent drug use in America, according to a Cincinnati statement.
Results of the analysis found that more than 38 percent of students were involved in school violent victimization, defined as ranging from verbal intimidation to threatening with and using a weapon.
The study found that school violent victimization was associated with increased odds of recent alcohol use and heavy drinking among males and females and across 7th-12th grades.
King and Vidourek say the analysis also found that males, non-whites and junior high school students were more likely to be victimized by bullying.
King added that junior high and high school students were one-and-a-half times more likely to have abused alcohol if they had been bullied.
"The overall effect of victimization and alcohol use did not differ based on sex, age or race. It has an overall impact on their drinking rates and level of intoxication across all categories," said King.
"Also, bullies and their victims are reporting similar types of activity in relation to their drinking patterns. We believe the alcohol abuse may often be an effort to escape problems and to self-medicate," he said.
The researchers also found that bullies and victims of bullying were less likely to be engaged in positive activities such as school clubs, sports or community and church organisations.
The research was presented at the 140th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Francisco.