Bullies and their victims are finally getting the attention they deserve—and so are the long-lasting consequences to both victim and perpetrator. Contrary to the popular belief that bullied kids eventually outgrow the psychological and physical pain they suffered, the effect of bullying persist far into adulthood.
“We were surprised at how profoundly bullying affects a person’s long-term functioning,” said William E. Copeland, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and the lead author of a new study that analyzed 20 years’ worth of data from more than 1,400 people who were 9, 11, or 13 when the study began. “This psychological damage doesn’t just go away because a person grew up and is no longer bullied,” Copeland added. “This is something that stays with them.”
Out of the1,400 participants, one in four said they’d been bullied at least once in childhood. Girls and boys were equally likely to have been victimized. In addition, 112 (about 8%) said they’d bullied others and another 5% said they’d both bullied and been bullied.
Copeland and his colleagues tracked most of the initial participants into adulthood. They found that those who said had been bullied and those with those who were both victims and aggressors, were more likely to have psychiatric disorders and suicidal thoughts than those who had no experience on either end of bullying. “It is those in the middle of the chain, who are both bullies and victims, who are at the highest risk of suicide,” said co-author Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick.
Kids who were only victims were far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and agoraphobia (a fear of leaving home). The bullies themselves had a high risk of developing antisocial personality disorder.
You can read more about this study here. Duke University, University of Warwick