FRIDAY, April 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Being bullied as a youngster may lead to lifelong struggles in adulthood.
New research warns that victims of teenage bullying face a 40% greater risk for mental health problems by the time they hit their mid-20s.
Young adults with a history of adolescent bullying may also see their odds for unemployment spike by 35%, investigators found.
For the study, they tracked bullying among more than 7,000 students between the ages of 14 and 16 in the United Kingdom. The teens were interviewed at regular intervals until age 21 and again at age 25.
“Examples of bullying we studied include being called names, being excluded from social groups, having possessions stolen, or being threatened with or experiencing violence,” said study author Emma Gorman.
Based on that definition, roughly half the students — 70% of whom were white — were bullied between 2004 and 2006.
“Girls were more likely to experience psychological forms of bullying, such as name-calling and exclusion from social groups, and boys were more likely to be victims of violent bullying,” Gorman said.
By age 25, those who had been bullied as teens were much more likely to have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and to struggle with finding a job, the study found.
“Among those who were employed,” Gorman added, “pupils who experienced bullying had 2% lower income.”
The more violent, more persistent and more frequent the bullying, the worse the long-term consequences, she added, though the research only found an association and could not prove bullying was a direct cause.
“These findings contradict a common view that bullying can be ‘character-forming’, or a normal ‘rite of passage’, in young people’s lives,” Gorman said. “Rather, we find that bullying can have long-lasting negative effects on young people’s lives.”
Gorman did her research as an associate in the Department of Economics at Lancaster University Management School in England. She’s since moved to the University of Westminster in London.
So what can be done to curtail bullying and limit the long-term fallout when it does occur?