HCN News & Notes

Study: Peer Victimization Linked to Later Depression, Substance Use

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — Children who are bullied early in adolescence may be more likely to use substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco during their high-school years, according to a new study published in the June 2017 issue of Pediatrics.

The study, “Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis,” collected data from 4,297 children starting when they were in fifth grade from 2004 through 2011. The children, recruited through random samplings of schools within districts in Birmingham, Ala., Houston, and Los Angeles County, provided information through computer-assisted personal interviews when in grades 5, 7, and 10.

Those who reported more frequent experiences of peer victimization in fifth grade showed greater depressive symptoms in seventh grade, which, in turn, were associated with a greater likelihood of substance use in 10th grade, the survey found. The authors conclude that all youth should be screened in a healthcare setting for peer victimization, depression, and substance use.