A study from the Boston Children’s Division of General Pediatrics shows that bullying can have a lasting effect on a child’s health, especially if the bullying persists over time.
Published in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers monitored 4,297 kids and adolescents in three cities who were enrolled in the 5th through 10th grade. Each child was interviewed to inspect their mental and physical health, as well as any bullying during grades five, seven, and 10.
When analyzing the data, the children were broken into four different groups:
- Students bullied in both the past and present
- Students bullied only in the present
- Students bullied only in the past
- Students who have never experienced bullying
The researchers found that 22 percent of fifth graders said they were currently being bullied. The frequency decreases as the students grew older to five and three percent in seventh and 10th grade respectively. Individuals who were bullied were linked with worse mental and physical health, more symptoms of depression and a lower sense of self-esteem.
Individuals who were exposed to chronic bullying also experienced more problems with physical activities like walking, running or playing sports. Almost one-third of 10th graders who had been bullied in the past and present said they experienced depressive symptoms, compared to 19 percent who were currently being bullied. Thirteen percent of those bullied only in the past and eight percent who had not experienced bullying had depressive symptoms.
"Our research shows that long-term bullying has a severe impact on child's overall health, and that its negative effects can accumulate and get worse with time," says Laura Bogart, from Boston Children's Division of General Pediatrics.
Stopping bullying early can have positive effects on the child. People should monitor the situation and speak up when they see a situation where someone is being bullied. “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,” Bogart adds.