General News — 17 January 2014
Bullies risk mental health issues and substance abuse

Schoolyard bullies could face the same risks of mental health and substance  abuse issues as their victims, according to a new study by the University of  Queensland.

More than 40 per cent of almost 1600 participants were found to have  experienced some form of bullying, with victims and perpetrators both likely to  suffer from depression later on.

The study’s author, James Scott, said the results showed peer aggression was  an independent risk factor for mental illness.bigstock-Teens-Problems-5584580

“Just because the bullying has stopped doesn’t necessarily mean everything is  going OK.”

Victims were found to have a higher chance of developing depression, anxiety  or social withdrawal, while bullies have an increased risk of developing alcohol  and other substance abuse problems.

Dr Scott believes teenagers who have experienced bullying should be monitored  for warning signs of mental health problems.

“Every school should have a strategy in place to reduce bullying,’’ he  said.

Brisbane Grammar School is well-known for its anti-bullying policy, which  aims to involve students and parents.

Principal Anthony Micallef believes bullying is a multilayered issue and any  measures to stop it require student input to be effective.

“We have an annual student welfare audit,” Mr Micallef said. “We have  constructed our own survey for students to complete online and we collate that  information.”

Mr Micallef said the advent of technology has led to new methods of bullying  and it was important for schools to remain current with their anti-bullying  policies.

“We have done a comprehensive analysis of the school and developed a policy  that is reviewed every two years,’’ he said.

The Queensland Government has also become involved, commissioning a website  to help promote awareness of bullying and prevent peer aggression in  schools.

The study is timely, with the annual National Day of Action against Bullying  and Violence to be held on March 21.

This article first appeared on the Brisbane Times on 16 January, 2014.

 

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