Bullying Has Long-Term Health Effects


Bullying intervention is crucial, as long-term health effects could arise much further in life, including depression, anxiety, and loss of self-worth. A study in Pediatrics published on-line Monday morning echoed this finding.

Lead author, Laura Bogart, who is a social psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital said the study looks at how bullying can, what she calls, “snowball” over time.

The study surveyed 4,300 students from public schools in Los Angeles, Birmingham, Ala., and Houston. Researchers found that 946 students or 22 percent reported to have been bullied in grade five. As many other studies on the topic suggests, bullying and its likelihood decreased the older students got; five percent were victimized in grade seven and three percent in grade 10.

The more significant finding shows that students scored worse in regards to their health when bullied both in the past and currently. Student victimized in the present only followed in terms of health risks, past victims was third on the list, and lastly, those with no history of being bullied had the lesser health risks.

In particular, 45 percent of students in tenth grade scored low in their psycho-social health – fear, anger, and anxiety – compared to 31 percent for those who were present victims only of bullying, 12 percent for past students bullied, and 7 percent for those who had never been bullied.

These alarming numbers are echoed in other long-term health effects, including depression, self-worth, and physical health. Students bullied both in the past and present were reported to experience the worst of each symptom at around 30 percent respectively; all significantly higher percentages than those who were victims of bullying in the present only, past only, or never bullied at all.

Stopbullying.gov has a list of various signs that may point to a child being the victim of bullying, which includes unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed books, jewelery, clothing, or electronics, along with any frequent stomach aches or headaches and faking or feeling of sickness. Other signs may be changes in habits of eating, sleeping difficulties and/or nightmares, declining in grades and loss of interest in school. Feelings of disparity, decrease in self-esteem, loss of friends, and self-destructive behaviors are also possible signs a child is being bullied.

According to a SAFE survey via Bullying Statistics, thirty percent of students in the States are involved on a regular basis in bullying, whether it be a bully, victim, or both. With the Internet, cyberbullying is becoming more popular outside of school grounds on-line. The site also notes how 42 percent of kids in the U.S. have been bullied on the Internet, while one of four has been attacked verbally on more than one occasion.

In the UK, BBC reported last month that ChildLine saw a significant increase in the amount of children contacting them concerning issues regarding cyber bullying. In 2012-2013, the group saw 4,507 cyber bullying cases, an increase from 2011-12’s number of 2,410.

With a growing number of bullying cases within and outside the borders of the United States, the issue is an increasing concern. This is raised even more when considering the long-term health effects bullying has on an individual. With the findings revealed in her study, Bogart highly encourages not only better reinforcement of preventing bullying, but continued intervention to prevent the life-long effects.

By Kollin Lore

Bullying Statistics
USA Today

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