Bullying negatively affects long-term health

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sad boy
Bullying leaves mental and emotional scars that have a long-lasting impact on our psychological and physical health.

According to recent studies in pediatrics, the branch of medicine that deals with infants, children, and teens, youth bullying has long-term negative effects on adult health.

For instance, researchers from Boston Children’s Division of General Pediatrics followed a group of over 4,000 children and teens from 5th-10th grade over 5 years, interviewing them about their mental and physical health. They also asked about bullying during grades 5, 7, and 10, then compared students who’d been bullied in the past and present, just the present, only in the past, or never.

The study found that no matter the age, bullying was tied to worse mental and physical health, less self-esteem, and more depression (a mood disorder of persistent sadness). Those who were repeatedly bullied over time also had trouble walking, playing sports, or running.

Lead researcher Laura Bogart said, “Our research shows that long-term bullying has a severe impact on child’s overall health, and that its negative effects can accumulate and get worse with time.” The solution, she says, has to come from taking direct action against bullying because “the sooner we stop a child from being bullied, the less likely bullying is to have a lasting, damaging effect on his or her health down the road.”

Another study published in the journal Psychological Science found that victims of childhood bullying even did poorly in adulthood. They were more likely to have mental disorders, smoke, have difficulty keeping friendships, and struggle holding on to a job. Then, University of Oxford researchers discovered that people who were bullied during their teenage years accounted for about a third of adulthood depression cases. They found that people bullied often at the age of 13 had twice the risk of becoming clinically depressed at age 18. So, if you or someone you know is being bullied, be sure to tell a trusted adult. Teachers and parents can work together to create a positive learning environment. Bullying is never okay.

Featured image courtesy of Lee Morley on Flickr. Image of sorrowful child courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr.