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Study links bullying to violence at home

BOSTON -- While bullies and their victims traffic in threats, taunts and fights in the schoolyard, a report Thursday showed that those on both sides also were more likely to live with violence at home.

Violent family encounters were most common among youths who identified as a bully-victim, someone who has both bullied and been victimized, the report said.

The association was among findings from a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which along with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health analyzed data on middle and high school students across the state.

Massachusetts has been at the forefront of bullying since the widely reported suicides of 15-year-old Phoebe of South Hadley last year and 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield in 2009. The state passed legislation in May 2010 that prohibits bullying in school and online, and mandates school-developed bullying prevention and intervention plans.

The CDC analysis confirmed some well-documented associations with bullying: an increased likelihood of suicide, substance abuse or poor grades.

But using the Massachusetts data, it also found bullies and victims reported being physically hurt by a family member or witnessing violence at home significantly more often than people who said they had not been bullied.

The report, which CDC said was the first state-specific analysis of risk factors and bullying, also noted that significant numbers of bullies and bully-victims said they had recently used alcohol or drugs.

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