Relationship between childhood bullying and addictive and anti-social behaviors among adults in Saudi Arabia: a cross-sectional national study

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2017 Aug 24;31(5):/j/ijamh.2019.31.issue-5/ijamh-2017-0052/ijamh-2017-0052.xml. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2017-0052.


Background Bullying is a widespread public health problem among youth with potentially far reaching negative implications. Objective To determine the prevalence of childhood bullying and its association with addictive and anti-social behaviors among adults. Subjects Adults (n = 10,156) aged ≥18 years were invited to participate. Methods A cross-sectional, national study utilizing Adverse Childhood Experiences International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ) was conducted in Saudi Arabia (SA). Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for bullying in relation to the outcome. Results Participant's mean age was 34.3 ± 11.3 years and 52% were male. Thirty-nine percent of the participants reported being bullied. Significant gender differences were found in terms of prevalence of different types of bullying. Men reported higher prevalence of physical (40% vs. 33%, p < 0.01) and sexual (19% vs. 10%, p < 0.01) types of bullying. In contrast, women tend to report higher prevalence of psychological (16% vs. 9%, p < 0.01) and social (14% vs. 10%, p < 0.01) types of bullying. Bullying victims were 1.8 (95% CI 1.6-2.1) times more likely to smoke, 2.3 (95% CI 1.9-2.7) times more likely to drink alcohol, 2.9 (95% CI 2.4-3.4) times more likely to use drugs, 2.1 (95% CI 1.8-2.4) times more likely to have ever had out of wedlock sexual relations, and 2.5 (95% CI 2.1-3.0) times more likely to have suicidal thoughts compared to those who were not bullied. Conclusion Childhood bullying increases the chances of risky behaviors among adults in SA. Prevention of bullying should be in the national agenda of the Ministry of Education.

Keywords: Saudi Arabia; adult; alcohol; bullying; drugs.