The “Worst of Both Worlds” (WBW) hypothesis holds that individuals who both commit crime and misuse drugs are at significantly greater risk for future crime and drug problems than individuals who only commit crime or only misuse drugs. In the current investigation, two developmental antecedents of crime and substance use—school bullying and alcohol experimentation—were used to form four WBW conditions (no bullying or alcohol experimentation, alcohol experimentation without bullying, bullying without alcohol experimentation, and bullying with alcohol experimentation). Analyzing data from 3837 (1951 boys, 1886 girls) early adolescents from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (mean age = 12.4 years at baseline), it was noted that children who engaged in bullying and had experimented with alcohol by age 12/13 were significantly more likely to increase their involvement in delinquency and substance use by age 16/17 compared to children who did not engage in bullying and had not experimented with alcohol, children who bullied but had not experimented with alcohol, and children who experimented with alcohol but had not bullied. These results not only support the WBW hypothesis, they also suggest that the effect may have developmental origins beyond similarities in externalizing symptomatology.
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Walters, G.D. Extending the “Worst of Both Worlds” hypothesis to the developmental antecedents of crime and substance use: school bullying and alcohol experimentation. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01771-0
- Worst of Both Worlds
- Substance use
- Alcohol experimentation