Childhood bullying behaviors at age eight and substance use at age 18 among males. A nationwide prospective study

Addict Behav. 2011 Mar;36(3):256-60. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.10.012. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


Childhood bullying behaviors (bullying and victimization) were studied as risk factors for substance use among Finnish males. The study design was a nationwide prospective general population study, where information was collected in 1989 and 1999. Bullying behaviors and childhood psychopathology at age eight were collected from teachers, parents and boys themselves. At age 18, self-reports of frequent drunkenness (once a week or more often), daily heavy smoking (10 cigarettes or more per day), and illicit drug use during the past six months were obtained from 78% of the boys attending the study at age eight (n=2946). Being frequently victimized at age eight predicted daily heavy smoking, and this was evident even after adjusting for childhood family background, psychopathology at age eight and at age 18, and other forms of substance use. In multivariate analysis, bullying others frequently predicted illicit drug use, while being a victim of bullying associated with a lower occurrence of illicit drug use. Bullying behaviors had no association with frequent drunkenness independent of other factors. Accordingly, being a victim of bullying predisposes in particular to subsequent smoking. Bullying others in childhood can be regarded as an early indicator to illicit drug use later in life. The screening and intervention possibilities in order to recognize the risk group for later health compromising behaviors are emphasized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Child
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*