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• Studies on peer victimization and cannabis use are reviewed for the first time.
• Evidence for a significant association is conflicting.
• Sample size and definitions of victimization affect results.
• Results of larger studies with broader definitions are more consistent.
• There is some evidence for bidirectional paths between victimization and marijuana.
Cannabis use and bullying or other forms of adolescent peer aggression and victimization can cause severe consequences when they coexist in the same youth. Studies addressing both these conditions were reviewed. Fourteen databases were searched. Blind assessments of study eligibility and quality were conducted. Twenty-six studies including 1,181,684 participants and meeting minimum quality criteria that were enough to insure objectivity and to not invalidate results were analyzed. Across studies, there was conflicting evidence for a significant relationship between cannabis use and peer victimization in adolescence. Studies including larger samples and/or considering a broader definition of victim status were more likely to find a significant association. Evidence for mediating or moderating mechanisms was scant. Studies assessing the temporal ordering of the two events offered some evidence for bidirectional and causal paths suggesting the existence of an interactive process, in which prior victimization may predispose a youth to use marijuana as a coping strategy or self-medication mechanism; substance use, in turn, may place the youth at a greater likelihood of exposure to dangerous persons or situations. Both cannabis use and peer victimization need special attention because they are common in adolescent populations and can be related to each other through reciprocal influences.
Journal: Aggression and Violent Behavior - Volume 25, Part B, November–December 2015, Pages 252–258