Bullying Has Health Repercussions Long Into Adulthood

11/08/2012

Bullying photo

Bullying has come front and center in the past few years as parents, teachers, and school administrators begin realizing that it leaves scars for years after we once thought the damage was done. New research has even shown that childhood bullying can lead to long term health consequences, according to a study at the Crime Victims Institute at Sam Houston State University

"What is apparent from these results is that bullying victimization that occurs early in life may have significant and substantial consequences for those victims later in life," said Leana Bouffard, Director of the Crime Victims' Institute. "Thus, the adverse health consequences of victimization are much more far-reaching than just immediate injury or trauma. Understanding these long term consequences is important to assessing the true toll of crime on its victims and on society as well as responding to victims more effectively."

The study tracked participants born between 1980 and 1984 and found that 19 percent of those surveyed had been the victims of repeated bullying. Those that were bullied had higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems and were more likely to have eating disorders, smoke, drink, experience violent victimization, or be homeless. 

Long Term Health Repercussions

According to the study:

Respondents were asked to report their current health on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor. Individuals who were victims of bullying in early childhood were more likely to report only fair or poor health compared to those who had not been bullied (10.2% of victims compared to only 6.2% of non‐victims).

"While these are adverse consequences themselves, they may also serve as intermediate mechanism for even more long-term health issues, such as cancer, alcoholism, depression and other serious problems," said Maria Koeppel, co-author of the study on Science Daily.

The study recommended investing in victim services and effective prevention programs to stave off these dire issues. Parents can catch bullying before it leaves permanent damage by being vigilant. Talk to your kids and their friends about bullying. Be wary if your child doesn't seem to have many friends, ask your child about their day, monitor online activity, and notice increased sadness or anxiety.

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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