A new study has found a disturbing link between childhood bullies and perpetrators of domestic violence.Harvard College researchers have found that men who report having bullied peers as children appear to have an increased risk of acting violent against an intimate partner in adulthood.  Evidence of the link is “strong”, the researchers said.

Kathryn Falb, M.H.S., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and her colleagues surveyed nearly 1,500 men ages 13 to 35 at three urban community health centers.  The survey included questions about past-year domestic violence, exposure to parental domestic violence, childhood abuse, and frequency of childhood bullying.

More than 40 percent of the participants reported that they had engaged in at least some bullying as children.  Of the men who reported committing domestic violence in the past year, 38.2 percent reported that they had frequently bullied other students in the past.

Even those who reported bullying others “rarely” in childhood were more likely to report committing domestic violence in the past year than those who said they had never bullied other children at all.

The researchers said their findings highlighted the importance of both reducing bullying and pursuing additional research to clarify why the behaviors may be related.

“Potential programs that may seek to reduce bullying peers during school maybe effective avenues to reduce future violence perpetration within intimate partner relationships by focusing on the reduction of abusive behaviors and the promotion of equitable attitudes across settings, life stages, and relationships,” the study authors said in a press release.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.