Study: The effects of childhood bullying still persist 40 years later
The physical, social and mental health effects of being bullied as a child are still evident 40 years later, according to a new study out of London.
The new findings from the British National Child Development Study come from more than 7,700 children whose parents provided information about their exposure to bullying at age 7 and 11. Researchers followed up with the children-turned-adults until they were 50 and found the harmful effects of bullying never totally went away.
In childhood, 28 percent of children in the study had been bullied occasionally, and 15 percent bullied frequently — rates similar to those seen in the U.K. today. Compared to peers who had not been bullied, those who’d been bullied in childhood were more likely to have poor physical and psychological health, lower educational levels, higher levels of unemployment, and less general satisfaction with life. They often lacked a social support system. Those who’d been bullied frequently had increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
“We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up,” said senior author Louise Arsenault, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, in a press release. “Teachers, parents, and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children. Programs 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.”
While the study didn’t specifically look at the experiences of LGBT youth, we can pretty confidently say the results will hold true for them, especially considering the higher marginalization and stigmatization LGBT folks will have to put up with in society even after they’re out of school. Alright, everyone. Time to step up and put an end to this.
As a personal note on this -
Goose and I were looking at a post/article from… somewhere, god knows, about how bullying is just a thing that happens and you should tell your kids/students to just put up with it…
And it just broke me. I wasn’t bullied very hard - almost nothing physical, and more insinuations and teasing than outright trashtalking - but I was in the same class with the same group of kids for almost eleven years. When you’re around the same kids for eight hours a day for ten months of the year for eleven years, you know stuff about each other. You know how to make each other hurt.
And one of the things I was taught (one of the things on the list Goose and I were looking at) was to act as though the bullies were trying to help me, and so if they called me “four eyes” for example, I was to say “oh, wow, thanks! I didn’t notice, isn’t that funny!” or whatever. I know what my parents and teachers were trying to do, they were trying to remove the source of my bullying, under the mistaken assumption that if I acknowledged the trait, and accepted it, I wouldn’t get teased for it.
What it actually led to was me thinking of them as right about me. I was a cry baby, I was a four eyes, I was stupid, fat, ugly, whatever else they could come up with.
And today, I have mild depressive symptoms. I have body dysphoria. The only person in the entire world that I would actively hate is myself. I literally cannot see myself as worthy of the attention and friendship and love of the people around me.
Because I was taught to treat the bullies as right.