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Bullies and Their Victims Abuse Booze More

Both parties involved in incidents of bullying at school are more likely to reach for the bottle afterwards.

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Do bullying and booze go hand in hand?
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By McCarton Ackerman

10/30/12

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Both school bullies and their victims are more likely to turn to alcohol following an incident of bullying, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati examined trends in bullying, recent alcohol use and heavy drinking episodes among over 54,000 7th-12th grade students in schools across greater Cincinnati, including the tri-state regions of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. They found that 38% of students had taken part in violent victimization at school, ranging from verbal intimidation to the use of a weapon. Victims of bullying—who were found more likely to be males, non-whites and junior high school students—were 1.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol than their peers. And interestingly, the bullies themselves reported similar drinking patterns. “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,” says Dr. Keith King, one of the lead researchers. “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.” Both bullies and their victims were also found to be less likely to engage in extracurricular school clubs or community organizations.

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