Substance use and related harms among adolescent bullies, victims and bully-victims

Erin Kelly, Nicola Newton, Lexine Stapinski, Tim Slade, Emma L. Barrett, Patricia J. Conrod, Maree Teesson

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


Introduction and Aims: Bullying is common among school students and has been associated with a wide range of problems, such as poor social adjustment, emotional issues and academic difficulties. An area that has received limited research focus is the association
between bullying and substance use. The current study examined substance use among bullies, victims and bully-victims.

Design and Methods: This study examined baseline data collected as part of the school-based Climate and Prevention study (Year 7–9 students; n = 2268). An adapted version of the Olweus Bully Victim Questionnaire was used to classify participants into frequent victims, bullies and bully-victims. The outcome variables were recent and harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. Multivariate regression was used to compare substance use among the bullying subtypes and uninvolved students.

Results: While victims were not at an increased risk of recent alcohol use as compared to uninvolved students, they were more likely to report harms related to alcohol use. Victims were also more likely than uninvolved students to report recent use of tobacco. Bullies were more likely than uninvolved students to report recent alcohol use, harms related to alcohol use, frequent tobacco use and harms related to cannabis use. Bully-victims were at increased risk of all forms of substance use examined, compared to the uninvolved students.

Discussion and Conclusions: Adolescents involved in bullying had an increased risk of substance use compared to uninvolved students. Bully-victims were at particularly high risk of substance use and related harms.

Implications for Practice or Policy: Adolescents identified as being involved in bullying victimisation and/or perpetration should be screened for substance use. Adolescents involved in bullying would benefit from targeted substance use prevention programs, particularly bully-victims. Although victims are not commonly associated with substance use, they may be at risk for harmful alcohol use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37
Number of pages1
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 9 Nov 201412 Nov 2014


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