A new study shows that bullied children become disturbed adults who might face mental illness.
Until now more studies have related bullying to mental health problems in teenagers and children but the new research conducted by a Canadian team is the first one to link bullying to long-term mental illness.
The study has been published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health and it reveals that childhood bullying creates later health problems.
The Canadian team conducted their research between 2003 and 2004 on 662 participants aged 12 to 19. The teenagers were surveyed about the type of bullying they endured in school as well as its frequency but also about their health problems and body image. Researchers were interested to know how many times the schoolmates have spread lies about or shoved the subjects, as well as if they experienced disturbances like insomnia, headaches and dizziness.
According to Alanna D. Hager from the Denver Metropolitan State University, bullying is associated with poor body image, abdominal pain, insomnia, backaches, dizziness and headaches. All of these somatic symptoms which can lead to depression and anxiety can interfere with all aspects of an adult’s life, from academic to job performance, romantic relationships and other health problems.
Another author of the study, Bonnie J. Leadbeater from the University of Victoria claims that as a result of the study, prevention programs should be taken during adolescence in order to prevent the later negative consequences of bullying.
Adolescence is the time when kids depend on their peers for the development of their identity and of their self-esteem.
The Canadian team made six rounds of interviews with the subjects of the study in which they found out that from 29 to 52 percent of the boys have been physically bullied on several occasions and so did between 20 and 29 percent of the girls.
When it came to emotional bullying, from 28 to 67 percent of the boys have been victims. Of the total number of girls, between 37 and 54 percent have been emotionally bullied by their peers.
The health was impacted more for the girls, who were having poorer body image and more physical problems.
However the study has some limitations. First of all, the majority of the subjects were white so the impact on teens of other ethnicities is unknown and second it is possible for most of the teens to become victims of bullying because of their health problems instead of the reverse.
However, the authors claim that their study is an alarm bell regarding the toxic effects of bullying and prevention programs should be enforced, in addition to counselling and therapy.
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