Through the school-based substance abuse prevention work we offer at Freedom Institute I constantly connect the dots between bullying and early substance use. How are two seemingly separate topics woven in together? Bullying behavior, like early substance use, can be viewed as a means for young people to gain social status, manage feelings, and indicate that a young person may need more parental attention.
When I meet with students we discuss why young people may resort to either behavior (depending on the topic of the day) to get their emotional needs met. The we delineate together what other, healthier, ways young people can get these needs met to prevent resorting to behavior that can harm themselves or others. As is the case with early substance use, bullying prevention efforts focus on increasing the already current protective factors in a young person’s life.