Effects of Being Bullied Last Longer than you Might Expect

Depressed Boy resizedIt is obvious that being the victim of a bully is unpleasant. What you may not realize is that the effects of being bullied last much longer than you may expect that they would. A study that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that children who were bullied have their health, relationships, and even their economic status, affected into middle age.

The researchers used data that was collected from the U.K.’s National Child Development Study. They focused on more than 18,000 people who were born during a specific week in 1958. The researchers asked the parents of the children if their child had been bullied. They first asked when the children were 7 years old. The researchers returned to ask the same questions when the children were 11 and 16.

When the children in this group became adults, the researchers began asking them to self-report if they had been bullied. They asked when the group was age 23, 33, 42, 45, and 50. When the participants reached age 23, and age 50, they were asked to complete measures of psychological distress and general health.

When they turned 45, they had a clinical assessment done to test for depressive and anxiety disorders. Upon reaching age 50, the participants were asked demographic information, such as their education level, employment status, and weekly net pay. At the same time, they were also asked if they were partnered or single and how often they saw their friends.

The researchers found that “participants who were bullied in childhood had increased levels of psychological distress at ages 23 and 50.” Victims of frequent bullying had higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidality than their peers (who were not bullied as children). The researchers also found that “childhood bullying victimization was associated with a lack of social relationships, economic hardship, and poor perceived quality of life at age 50.”

In short, people who were bullied when they were children do not simply “bounce back” from it as if nothing had ever happened. The effects of being bullied last through a person’s middle age. One thing we can take from this study is that it is very important that parents, who discover that their child is being bullied, take steps to address the problem as soon as possible.

If your child tells you that he or she is being bullied, it is a good idea to make it clear that you believe and support your child. Parents might want to meet with their child’s teacher or day care provider to gain more information about what, exactly, is happening. Together, the adults can come up with a plan that will help prevent bullying from continuing to happen.

See these related blogs for more information:

Helping Your Child Stand Up to Bullies

What to do About Bullying

Protect Your Special Needs Child from Bullying

Image by Tjook on Flickr.