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.