Children bullied frequently or experiencing violence during childhood age fast than their counterparts of same age. Idan Shalev, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University said that kids bullied are 'older' than they are supposed to be and are more likely to be at risk for premature death. Earlier, studies have been linking stress with risk and health problems due to which biological aging in childhood was presumed to be result of stress.
In order to determine biological aging, research panel examined a portion of DNA called telomeres. Sequences cap are the ends of our chromosomes is the indicator of molecular clock signalling wear-and-tear on DNA. Adults with shorter telomeres were also the ones who experienced violence and bullying in their budding years. According to Shalev, reason of shortened telomeres was inconclusive, which might have occurred due to childhood stress or health problems.
A sample of 236 British children born between 1994 and 1995 was taken in order to find out the actual scenario,. DNA samples were extracted by swabbing cheeks of children, and then length of child's telomeres was determined.
After conducting interviews with children’s mothers, it was found that 17 percent of the kids faced violence in their households by 10 years of age. 24.2 percent were frequently bullied and 26.7 percent were physically abused in their early life. Furthermore, researchers segregated sample subjects into groups: kids who hadn't experienced violence (54.2 percent), kids having experienced one type of violence (29.2 percent) and kids who had experienced two or more types of violence (16.5 percent).
It was found out that children having experienced several types of valences had most shortened telomere. Telomere shortening is an outcome of cumulative stress, which is further linked with inflammation.
Elissa Epel, a health psychologist at the University of California, specialising in the sphere of stress management and cell aging commented, “Indeed children's immune-system aging can be adversely affected by severe stress early in childhood, a scar that could last possibly decades later. This study underscores the vital importance of reducing violent exposures for children — both serious bullying and abuse in the family.”
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