Online Program

Impact of Bullying on Risky Behaviors in Middle and High School Students

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Jacob Warren, PhD, MBA, Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA
K. Bryant Smalley, PhD, PsyD, MBA, Rural Health Research Institute, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
K. Nikki Barefoot, Psy.D., Rural Health Research Institute, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
purpose: This study explored the association between being bullying experiences and 16 individual risk behaviors in a large non-clinical sample of middle and high school students.

methods: Data were analyzed from the 2013 Georgia Student Health Survey II, administered to 6th-12th grade students in all public schools in Georgia (n = 513,909). Students were asked about their experiences with bullying during the last 30 days, and their engagement in a variety of risky behaviors including: alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; safety-related absenteeism; bringing a weapon to school; suicidality; and self-injurious behavior.

results: Bullied students, in comparison to their non-bullied counterparts, reported statistically significantly higher rates of engagement in each of the 16 risk factors examined at the p < 0.001 level among both middle school and high school students, The largest associations included: safety-related absenteeism (OR = 25.4, p < 0.001 and OR = 17.0, p < 0.001 for high/middle school students, respectively); and bringing a weapon to school (OR = 10.9, p < 0.001 and OR = 6.81, p < 0.001 for high/middle school students, respectively).

conclusions:  This study reveals alarming relationships between bullying and a multitude of risk-taking behaviors that suggest that bullying may be responsible for a large portion of substance use, self-harm, and weapons seen in middle and high school students. These behaviors place bullied children at risk for long-term physical and psychological consequences, as well as potential legal complications.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the specific bullying experiences of middle and high school students. List 10 risky behaviors that are associated with being the victim of bullying among middle and high school students.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, School-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I possess a Ph.D. in Epidemiology and have been engaged in behavioral epidemiology research for more than ten years. I have published numerous articles on health behaviors, as well as a book focused on child health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.