Sydney, Sep 19 (IANS) It’s not just the victim of bullying who faces psychological problems. Being a childhood bully can lead to relationship issue later in life.

‘Bullies go onto have lots of relationship issues. They have difficulty in romantic relationships,’ says Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

‘Only people who are scared of them are their companions, their henchmen, in primary school,’ adds Campbell.

A 2006 study said that ‘bullies in primary school have been shown to be more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence before they reach their 20s than children who are not involved in bullying.’

‘They also often have drug and alcohol misuse problems because they self-medicate as they haven’t figured out how to have good relationships,’ it said.

Campbell said bullying was a learnt behaviour and that children learned from their families how to be bullies, said a Queensland release.

Punishing bullies has been shown not to decrease their bullying behaviour. The best way to stop bullying behaviour is by talking with bullies.

A second method is restorative justice where the bully must face the victim and the damage they have done.

‘These methods aim to elicit or teach the empathy that bullies lack,’ the release said.

Campbell said schools told children through their anti-bullying programmes that it was a bad thing to do.

However, if parents themselves bullied then this was not enough to change their children’s behaviour.

‘Bullying can only be stopped when the whole family is assisted to understand their behaviour and develop good social relationships,’ she said.

‘When children see domestic violence, which can be both physical and emotional abuse, they see that unequal power can be used to get your own way.

‘Parents may talk at the dinner table about their own bullying behaviour in the workplace and children pick that up as a method of getting what you want. On top of this, lots of media show that bullies win. Bullying is a deeply embedded social relationship problem.’