(HealthDay News) – High school bullies and bully-victims are more likely to engage in casual sex and sex under the influence of alcohol and drugs than their peers, with the association seen primarily for heterosexual youth, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in Pediatrics.

Melissa K. Holt, PhD, from Boston University, and colleagues assessed responses from a sample of 8,687 high school students who completed the countrywide Dane County Youth Survey, administered in 24 schools. Participants were questioned regarding their involvement in bullying and sexual risk-taking behaviors (eg, engaging in casual sex and having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs).

The researchers found that bullies and victims of bullying were more likely to engage in sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs and casual sex. After controlling for demographic characteristics and victimization exposures in other domains, these findings persisted, mainly for heterosexual youth.

“Bullying prevention programs and programs aimed at reducing unhealthy sexual practices should consider a broader stress and coping perspective and address the possible link between the stress of bullying involvement and maladaptive coping responses,” the authors write.

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