Boys who bully other kids during their childhood are more likely to physically abuse their wives or girlfriends when they grow up, according to a study by Harvard researchers.

More than 40 per cent of the men surveyed for the study said they had bullied other kids as children, and 16 per cent reported abusing women in their lives in the past year.

Bullying and domestic violence might be linked by a feeling of “entitlement,” said study co-author Jay Silverman, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The researchers surveyed 1,491 men aged 18 to 35. Of those who had recently abused women, 38 per cent said they had frequently bullied others when they were kids.

By contrast, among men who had not been abusive in the past year, just 12 per cent had been frequent bullies as kids. Only 36 per cent of those who had recently abused women said they had never bullied others, compared with 64 per cent of the other men.

The latest research shows men who admit to bullying their peers in childhood appear to have an increased risk of intimate partner violence, known as IPV.

Study leader Kathryn Falb, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “Recent evidence strongly indicates that bullying peers in school may share common prior causes with IPV perpetration.”

“Critically, this analysis demonstrates that those reporting school bullying are significantly more likely to perpetrate physical or sexual IPV,” Falb said.

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