Meta-analysis on childhood and adolescent peer bullying perpetration and later substance use (oral presentation at VNOP-CAS)


The aim of the present study was to review and meta-analyze existing evidence regarding the prospective association between bullying perpetration in childhood/adolescence and later use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Previous meta- analyses only included research up to 2014 and were limited to drug use. Electronic databases were searched on March 14, 2019. We included peer- reviewed articles and dissertations in English that reported on associations between bullying perpetration in childhood or adolescence and later use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Three-level multilevel random effects models were used to account for dependency between effects from the same sample. Separate models were estimated for the effects of bullying perpetration and combined bullying perpetration- victimization, for the different types of substance use, and for unadjusted and adjusted effects. Egger tests and p-curve analyses were performed to assess the likelihood of reporting or publication bias. In total 215 effects were included from 28 publications, reporting on 22 samples with a total of 28,477 participants. Bullying perpetration was associated positively with all types of substance use, also after adjusting for confounders. Childhood bullying was more strongly associated with later alcohol and tobacco use than adolescent bullying. For bully-victims, results were more heterogeneous and effects seemed weaker compared to “pure” bullies. The findings of this study suggest that, compared to their non-bullying peers, bullying children and adolescents have a higher risk of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use later on. Our finding that childhood bullying was more strongly linked to alcohol and tobacco use later in life than adolescent bullying, may be explained by evidence that, contrary to childhood bullying, adolescent bullying may be a strategic and functional response to acquire a dominant position in the peer group, not necessarily related to negative outcomes.

Nov 20, 2020 11:10 AM — 12:00 PM