Bullying today is a hot topic. Even though there is a zero tolerance policy in most schools and other institutions, bullying happens to children and teenagers every day. Victims of bullying often have very powerful responses – sadness, depression, and in more extreme cases, suicide. Bullied children don’t easily forget being bullied, and now a recent study shows that children that are bullied can still suffer negative effects both physically and mentally, well into their adult years.
Researchers from King’s College London say that these children can have lasting impacts more than 40 years later. They followed 7,771 children born in 1958 from age 7 until age 50. Those that were bullied often during their childhood had greater risk of depression and anxiety and more often reported lower quality of life at age 50.
To collect info, researchers asked parents if their child had been exposed to bullying, at ages seven and 11. More than a quarter said they had been bullied occasionally and 15% bullied frequently. In years that followed, researchers then carried out tests to see if the known effects of bullying were still present in the adult years. Individuals were tested for psychological distress and general health at the ages of 23 and 50, for psychiatric problems at 45 and cognitive functioning, social relationships and well-being at 50. Those who were bullied frequently were more likely to be depressed and have suicidal thoughts. There were also social and economic consequences to childhood bullying. Those bullied as children were more likely to be less educated, with men who were bullied more likely to be unemployed and earn less. Bullied people also were less likely to be in a relationship and didn’t have a solid support system from friends or family at age 50. (1)
The results of this study are shocking. What your children see and experience stays with them – more than you might think. What are you allowing your children to see? What images are being engrained into their young minds? Are your children allowed to play violent video games or watch violent movies? Are the things they are seeing and hearing affecting how they act towards their peers? Images in movies and video games these days are life-like and powerful. After repeated exposure, children’s brains begin to rewire, and for many, their actions begin to change. This is where bullying could start and begin affecting innocent children.
Be mindful of what you allow in your home. Be aware of what your children are exposed to. Encourage them to fill their minds with things that will inspire them to be kind and compassionate individuals – especially when it comes to treating others with respect. The world today needs happier, well-adjusted children, not rejected, bullied ones.
“Child bullying victims still suffering at 50 – Study.” BBC News Health. Published online April 17, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27063715
By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan MD PhD