Children that are bullied, sexually abused, more likely to smoke, drink as adults
Children who were bullied and sexually abused were more likely to smoke and excessively drink alcohol as adults, according to findings recently published in BMC Public Health.
Only a few studies have explored this phenomenon in Australia, according to David Alejandro González-Chica, PhD, a senior lecturer and research supervisor within the discipline of general practice at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues. These previous studies did not use population-based samples, had low percentages of males or older adults, and did not ascertain the age abuse started, its duration or its severity, they added.
Researchers interviewed 2,873 Australians (mean age, 48.8 years). Of them, 45.6% had been bullied, 10.4% had been sexually abused and 7.3% had experienced both as children.
They found that smoking dependence occurred in 7.8% of participants and was twice as frequent 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, or if the abuse occurred for 1 month or longer.
In addition, excessive alcohol drinking occurred in 14.3% of the patients studied and was more frequent when bullying occurred for more than 24 months. Binge eating occurred in 8.1% of participants and was more frequent among those bullied as children or sexually abused as adults.
“Strategies that aim to prevent these forms of abuse are important. Identifying survivors of both forms of abuse is important to provide support and reduce more severe mental and physical consequences in the future,” González-Chica and colleagues wrote.
Other long-term consequences of sexual abuse and bullying include adverse physical health outcomes (eg, neurological, musculoskeletal and immune response conditions, drug use, risky sexual behavior and suicide attempts, they added. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.