Published online February 17, 2014.
Long-term and current bullying can have serious consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health, new research suggests.
A survey of more than 4000 children when they were in 5th, 7th, and 10th grades showed that those who were bullied both in the past and in the present had significantly worse self-worth and greater depressive symptoms over time than those who had present-only, past-only, or no experiences with bullying.
In addition, more than 44% of the current and past bullying victims “were at the lowest decile of psychosocial health,” report the investigators.
“The findings didn’t really surprise us, but some of the results were very striking,” lead author Laura M. Bogart, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and a social psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told Medscape Medical News.
“We know from previous research that bullying is related to poor mental and physical health. But we found really large effects,” she added.
Dr. Bogart noted that clinicians should talk with their patients about bullying even before they are affected.
“The sooner we stop a child from being bullied, the less likely bullying is to have a lasting, damaging effect on his or her health down the road,” she said in a release.
The study was published online February 17 in Pediatrics.