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Early Peer Victimization Associated With Later Depression, Substance Use: Study

​Children who are bullied early in adolescence may be more likely to use substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco during their high school years, according to a new study being published in the June 2017 issue of Pediatrics. The study, "Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis" (to be published online May 8), collected data from 4,297 children starting when they were in 5th grade from 2004 through 2011. The children, recruited through random samplings of schools within districts in Birmingham, Houston, and Los Angeles County, provided information through computer-assisted personal interviews when in grades 5, 7, and 10. Those who reported more frequent experiences of peer victimization in 5th grade showed greater depressive symptoms in 7th grade, which, in turn, were associated with a greater likelihood of substance use in the 10th grade, the survey found. The authors conclude that all youth should be screened in a health care setting for peer victimization, depression and substance use.

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