Bullied, sexually abused kids more likely to smoke, drink

A new study has found children who were bullied and sexually abused are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol excessively as adults.

The findings were published recently in BMC Public Health.

Few studies have explored this phenomenon in Australia, according to Dr David Alejandro González-Chica, senior lecturer and research supervisor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and his colleagues.

They say previous studies did not use population-based samples. They had low percentages of males or older adults, did not ascertain the age abuse started, nor did they look at its duration or its severity.

After interviewing 2,873 Australians (with a mean age of 48.8 years), the researchers found 45.6 percent had been bullied, 10.4percent had been sexually abused and 7.3 percent had experienced both as children.

They found 7.8 percent of participants were dependent on smoking. This figure doubled in certain circumstances – if the bullying took place for more than 24 months; if the sexual abuse took place before age 10 years or after age 20 years; if the abuse occurred for one month or longer.

Excessive alcohol drinking occurred in 14.3 percent of the people surveyed.

Heavy drinking was more frequent when bullying occurred for more than 24 months.

Similarly binge eating, which occurred in 8.1 percent of participants, was more frequent among those bullied as children or sexually abused as adults.

The researchers say strategies that aim to prevent these forms of abuse are important.

This involves identifying survivors of bullying and sexual abuse so support can be provided and the more severe mental and physical consequences in the future can be minimised.

González-Chica and colleagues found other long-term consequences of sexual abuse and bullying include adverse physical health outcomes.

These include neurological, musculoskeletal and immune response conditions, drug use, risky sexual behaviour and suicide attempts.


News category: World.

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