Bullying and its effects can harm children well into adulthood, according to a new Healthy Passages study. While bullying has often been discussed by medical professionals, teachers, and parents alike, this is one of the many studies that examines the long term effects on its victims.
Nearly 4,300 students in Grades 5, 7 and 10 participated in the study, with students from Alabama, Texas, and California all participating. The students were assessed based on their physical and mental health and how much bullying they had experienced. It was found that those who had experienced bullying in the past felt better about themselves than those who had experienced bullying throughout their scholastic careers.
The study’s lead author, Laura Bogart of Boston Children’s Hospital, says that the study’s findings are simply further evidence that early supports for those students who are bullied should be put into place. Students who were victimized and then had the bullying problem alleviated tended to do better than those who had a long term issue with bullying, though they still struggled more than students who had never had an issue with bullying.
30 percent of those students surveyed felt that they had been bullied on a regular basis. For the 3 or 4 percent of students who reported they were chronically bullied, up to 45 percent reported having a low self-esteem by the time they were teens. 30 percent of those who had been chronically bullied says by the time they hit Grade 7, they struggled with tasks requiring physical skills, such as sports.
In addition, 30 percent of tenth graders who were chronically bullied scored the lowest scores for depression, compared to 19 percent of those who were currently bullied and 8 percent for those who had been bullied in the past. There was, however, no conclusive evidence that bullying was linked to low self-esteem. It was clear, though, from the survey findings, that bullying has an impact on physical health, contributing to cases of obesity and chronic illness, according to the study. According to the results of the study, this chronic bullying that the survey respondents spoke of illustrates that the effects of bullying have the potential to last well into adulthood.
Susan Strauss, author of Sexual Harassment and Bullying: a Guide to Keeping Kids Safe and Holding Schools Accountable, says the longitudinal study was very revealing because of its approach. She says that bullying, in fact, is harassment and quite targeted in its approach. Harassment can target a person’s gender, social status, intelligence, race, or other factors, while bullying is blind to a person’s status. She believes that harassment and bullying should be carefully distinguished from one another and those who are dealing with bullies need to ensure that they are making the difference clear.
Bullying is the lowest common denominator of harassment and discrimination, according to www.bullyonline.org, a website established and maintained by the Tim Field Foundation. The Tim Field Foundation is dedicated to the eradication of bullies, in honor of the late Tim Field’s view of a bully-free world. Another study about the effects of bullying that can linger into adulthood, this one done by researchers in the UK, indicated that those who may be prone to victimization and to being bullies themselves could have significant health issues as they head into adulthood, including psychiatric disorders, physical health issues, and they could also turn to poor coping habits, such as smoking when stressed.
By Christina St-Jean