THURSDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Student bullies, their
victims and bully-victims -- those who are victimized and also
engage in bullying -- face a broad range of health risks, including
family violence and intentional self-harm, a new U.S. study
In a survey of 5,807 middle-school and high-school students from
almost 138 Massachusetts public schools, researchers found that
those involved in bullying in any way are more likely to
contemplate suicide and engage in self-harm, compared to other
Those involved in bullying were also more likely to have certain
risk factors, including suffering abuse from a family member or
witnessing violence at home, compared to people who were neither
bullies nor victims.
Bullying was defined as being repeatedly teased, hit,
threatened, kicked or excluded by other students.
After adjusting for other factors, the odds ratio of a middle
school student being physically hurt by a family member, for
example, was 2.9 for victims of bullying, 4.4 for bullies, and 5.0
for those who were both bullies and victims, compared to other
students. The odds ratio for witnessing violence at home was,
respectively, 2.6, 2.9, and 3.9.
The odds ratio for a high school student to be physically hurt
by a family member was 2.8 for victims, 3.8 for bullies, and 5.4
for bully-victims, compared to students who were not involved in
bullying; for witnessing violence at home, the odds ratio for high
school students was 2.3, 2.7 and 6.8, respectively.
Previous research has linked bullying with poor grades,
substance use and mental health issues. This report concludes that
the health risks and home environment for teens involved in
bullying are much worse than for kids who have no experience with
"The results underscore the importance of primary prevention programs, as well as comprehensive programs and strategies that involve families," researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
A successful prevention program should include school officials,
staff members, students and parents, with access to health and
mental health services an essential component, they added, while
noting that classroom programs alone are ineffective.
The findings are published in the April 22 issue of the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Of the students surveyed, middle school students (44 percent)
were more likely than high school students (30.5 percent) to have
some involvement in bullying.
Researchers found that 26.8 percent of middle-school students
reported being bullied compared to 15.6 percent of high-school
students. But fewer middle-school students (7.5 percent) than
high-school students (8.4 percent) reported being bullies
In both age ranges, more males than females admitted to
bullying, and more females said they were victims than males.
Among high school students, 6.5 percent reported being
bully-victims. A little less than 10 percent of middle school
students said they were bully-victims. Health risks were greater
for bully-victims than for those who saw themselves as just bullies
or just victims, the report said.
The majority of students in both age ranges -- 56 percent of
middle school students and 69.5 percent of high school students --
said they were neither bullies nor victims.
The researchers cited several limitations in the study,
including a low response rate and its reliance on self-reporting.
Recall is not always accurate and may be subject to bias, experts
The CDC has launched a program, Striving to Reduce Youth
Violence Everywhere, to help communities promote safe environments
To learn more about bullying prevention, visit the
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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