A recent study has found teen bullies and their victims more likely to carry weapons than other teenagers who are not involved with bullying.
School shootings are a concern across the United States, so the findings spotlight the potential link between bullying and potential subsequent violence. The findings were culled from 45 previously published studies. .
“Bullying was already found harmful for victims in previous studies, but bullying may also be related to a more unsafe atmosphere in school for all attending children and the personnel through an increased likelihood of weapon carrying,” said the lead researcher of the study, Mitch van Geel of the Institute of Education and Child Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
“Adolescents who carry weapons are more likely to get into fights, to suffer injury, and to experience hospitalization than adolescents who do not carry weapons,” van Geel said.
The analysis found that bullies, victims and bully-victims — kids who are picked on who then become bullies themselves — were more likely to carry weapons than others.
And bully-victims were more likely to carry weapons than victims, especially in the United States, where guns are more accessible, the researchers noted. One study found that bully-victims were also more likely to report using a weapon than victims.
However, the research doesn’t prove that bullying causes teens to take up arms, or explain why they might do so, van Geel said. Still, “reducing bullying may reduce weapon-carrying among adolescents,” he said.
“It may be that victims carry weapons to protect themselves,” he said. “Bullies might carry weapons in order to threaten or intimidate others, or as part of an underlying aggressive personality that affects both bullying and weapon-carrying.” And bully-victims may carry weapons both for protection and/or intimidation, he said.
The analysis included 22 studies of victims of bullying, 15 studies of bullies and eight studies of bully-victims.