According to the study at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, the effects of bullying are beyond early adulthood. They found that the negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later.
The researchers looked at the British National Child Development’s data, which has the details of all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958. In this research, behaviour of 7,771 children was examined. Their parents provided the information on their child's exposure to bullying when they were aged 7 and 11. They were followed up until the age of 50. It was found that those who were bullied frequently as children were at an increased risk of depression and anxiety, and more likely to report a lower quality of life at 50.
According to Dr. Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the study, the effects of bullying are visible even four decades later. Those who are bullied in the childhood were found to be more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning later. Also, they are at a greater risk of depression, anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts.
According to the study, those bullied in their childhood are more likely to have lower educational levels. Bullied individuals were more likely to be unemployed and earn less. They also had a hard time with social relationships and inter-personal relationships; they were less likely to be in a relationship, had less social support and lower quality of life than those who were not bullied in their childhood.
According to the researchers, the harmful effects of bullying remained even when factors such as childhood IQ, emotional and behavioural problems, parents' socioeconomic status and low parental involvement were taken into account.
There is a need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up. It will need the greater involvement of teachers, parents and policy-makers to prevent long-term repercussions of bullying. Bullying prevention campaigns and programs are extremely important.
The awareness and education about the nature of bullying and how they can prevent it are the ways to stop bullying. Interactive workshops, drama and role-playing work well alongside more traditional teaching methods to stop bullying. Respecting diversity, addressing bullying explicitly can discourage bullying by promoting an atmosphere of tolerance.
The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Another study at the Warwick University, 1,400 people between the ages of nine and 26 were tracked. The study reported that bullying had long-term negative consequences for health, job prospects and relationships. It was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
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