Childhood bullying can continue to damage mental and physical health long into adulthood, a new study that was reported in The Independent said. The study suggested victims were more likely to suffer from depression, ill-health and even joblessness up to 40 years later.
According to researchers from Kings College London, the negative impact of bullying on people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing in adult life appeared to be comparable to that experienced by adults who had been taken into care as a child.
A leading anti-bullying charity said that the “landmark” study reinforced the case for the Government to launch a national review of the impact of bullying.
The psychological damage suffered by child victims of bullying is well documented, and recent study also showed that victims are more likely to have a psychiatric problem into their 20s. However, the latest study, which looked at data on the personal development of nearly 8,000 children born in 1958, revealed that those who had suffered bullying between the ages of seven and 11 were still more likely to suffer from a range of health and social problems, even up to the age 50.
Emma-Jane Cross, founder of the charity BeatBullying said that the study highlighted “the incontrovertible truth” of bullying’s long-term impact and warned that today’s children were at even greater risk than those in the study. “With current generations facing even greater threats from cyberbullying and trolling than those in the study, we can only assume that the consequences of bullying could be even more damaging for future generations,” she said.
A senior author of the study, Professor Louise Arseneault, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, said that society needed to stop viewing bullying as “an inevitable part of growing up”. “Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children,” she said. “Programmes to stop bullying are extremely important, but we also need to focus our efforts on early intervention to prevent potential problems persisting into adolescence and adulthood.”
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