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Study Shows Negative Effects of Bullying Can Last Through Adulthood

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A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that childhood bullying can have negative effects throughout a person’s adult life. It turns out that the playground bully at your kid’s school may be more than just a temporary nuisance. Results of this study show that a child who is bullied can carry the mental damage well into the future.

The study, carried out in England, Scotland and Wales, followed nearly 8,000 participants, starting when they were between the ages of 7 and 11 years old, in 1958. At that time, researchers assessed the participants and found that 28 percent were occasionally bullied and 15 percent were frequently bullied.

Through the years, researchers checked back in on the participants at ages 23, 45 and 55. At this point in the study, the subjects were evaluated for mental-health problems, as well as overall physical and cognitive health. Researchers also noted the employment and education level of the participants.

For some people, the study found, bullying changes their entire lives. The research showed that men who were bullied were more likely to be unemployed and earn less, for example. According to Louise Arseneault, one of the researchers, “We found the kids who were victims of bullying didn’t manage to move up or move on, possibly because they are so used to being pushed down.”

There was also evidence of mental-health problems in the participants who were bullied similar to those found in people suffering from the long-term effects of abuse or being placed in public care as children.

Considering that the bullying of the participants took place in the 1950s, it can be assumed that the kinds of bullying kids are subject to now, both at school and through social media, can have more harmful and even longer-lasting effects. This is because it’s much more difficult to avoid and can remain on the Internet forever.

“While a certain portion of kids who are bullied end up fine, this highlights that bullying can contribute to later outcomes in different areas of life,” said Arseneault. “Bullying should not be brushed off as part of growing up.”

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