Another study, this one published online by the journal Pediatrics, emphasizes the long term difficulties children who are chronically bullied have during their formative years.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston surveyed over 4,000 children in the 5th, 7th and 10th grades about their experiences with bullying. Students who had been bullied in the past and were still being bullied had lower self esteem and more depressive symptoms than students who had been bullied in the past only, in the present only, and those who had never been bullied.
The researchers urged health care providers to address bullying with parents and children before an episode occurs in an effort to provide coping skills and an outlet, or safe place to vent about the problem.
Earlier this year a study of 4,700 children in the UK revealed that children who are chronically bullied before the age of 10 are more likely to have a psychotic break by the time they reach 18.
Interestingly, the study showed that not only are bullied children more at risk for psychosis in later life — the bullies are too! It turns out that perpetrators of bullying are 5 times more likely to experience psychosis by the age of 18.
And the more a child is bullied, the more likely he or she will experience mental health trauma later in life. Researchers call this phenomenon the “dosing affect” — with each episode of bullying, risk for depression, risky behavior and psychosis goes up.
In addition to having mental health problems, bullied and their tormentors are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as having unprotected sex, abusing alcohol and taking drugs.
For more information on bullying, visit the American Psychological Association website.