In recent years, the issue of bullying has been brought up by many educators, parents and even celebrities. As much of the world embraces others for their differences, there is still a significant portion that holds a person’s differences against them. This can be especially common in grade school, junior high and high school, where children can be tormented by their peers. In an effort to examine just how bullying affects children, researchers at the University of Delaware set out to conduct a study directly related to this topic.
They found that not only is bullying highly damaging to the child while they’re going through it, but being bullied can actually increase a child’s chances of drug use. According to the report, children who are severely bullied in fifth grade are more likely to abuse alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Additionally, by the time these children reach the seventh grade they are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, which may account for their use of drugs in tenth grade. Self-medication through drug use is more common among those that have depression. Unfortunately drug use during this time can also lead to brain development problems as well as more social problems.
“Peer victimization really matters, and we need to take it seriously – this echoes the messages educators already have been receiving. The study gives some additional evidence as to why it’s important to intervene. It also may give teachers insight into why students are depressed or using substances in middle and high school,” explained Valerie Earnshaw, a social psychologist and assistant professor at University of Delaware.
This report, which used information gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to inform teachers and educators, but also to help the children themselves. Youth that are being bullied may find solace in the fact that their problems are real and that not talking about them can lead them down a path of drug use and further depression problems.