03 July 2012

Young bullies are thugs in the making

TEENAGE bullies turn into thugs and are twice as likely to be involved with the courts or police when they reach 19 or 20. 
Bullying in high school may be a sign of later antisocial behaviour, a long term study of 800 young Australians has found.
The study, to be presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies annual conference, found likely offences by late teens included theft, burglary, assault, selling drugs and vandalism.
Lead researcher Suzanne Vassallo said 27 per cent of boys and 14 per cent of girls surveyed had been involved in bullying, either as victims or perpetrators.
Bullies had twice the chance of becoming criminals later in life.
"The findings provide further evidence that bullying in adolescence may be a marker of risk for a continuing pattern of antisocial behaviour," Ms Vassallo said.
"This does not mean that every schoolyard bully is destined to become a criminal.
"However, if unchecked, bullying by early teens can be a powerful marker for a tendency towards anti-social behaviour later on, particularly for males.
"It underscores the importance of early intervention initiatives."
Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, said it would be interesting to track young people backwards to see what had led them to engage in bullying behaviour.
"We need to assess the toxic stress in their lives, particularly what's been going on from birth to eight," he said.
Dr Judith Slocombe, CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, said the findings confirmed existing research.

heraldsun.com.au 30 Jun 2012

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