Research conducted by Boston University School of Education has discovered teens who bully other kids or who are bullied themselves are more likely to engage in casual sex or risky sexual behaviour. The trend is particularly common amongst heterosexual teens. LGBTI teens also reported higher incidents of bullying and were more likely to experience violence in relationships.
"Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers," explained Melissa K Holt, who led the research team told Reuters Health.
Further research also confirmed a link between bullying and drug and alcohol use, with teens who are bullied more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
The results were from a survey conducted amongst 9000 students from 24 different high schools. Encouragingly, 80 percent of respondents said they had not been bullied or bullied anyone themselves.
Among the six percent of teens who claimed to have bullied peers, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they'd had sex while drunk or stoned.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
“Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning students are often minorities at school,” Holt said, “and may experience stigma and discrimination. These unique stressors associated with being a sexual minority might translate into coping mechanisms that are different than those used by straight teens.”
According to Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Centre for Bullying Abuse Prevention. LGBTI youth were twice as likely to report being bullied as their heterosexual peers. They were also more likely to have experienced dating violence or been sexually abused.
"The bottom line is that bullying behavior is something that parents and teachers should be concerned about, both because of the deleterious effects of bullying itself, but also because of its association with other problems such as substance use, other aggressive behavior, criminal involvement, as well as depression and suicidality," Nickerson told Reuters Health.