How bullying hurts more than just feelings

How bullying hurts more than just feelings

Kids who were bullied during adolescence are more likely to have health problems as adults, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, followed 662 youth 12 to 19 years old from 2003 to 2014. Results showed that the kids who had endured physical and/or emotional bullying were more likely to experience headaches, backaches, dizziness, insomnia, abdominal pain and other health concerns in adulthood.

“Peer victimization puts adolescents at risk for immediate and long-term physical health difficulties,” study authors said. “This study…shows that victimized youth continue to experience poorer physical health for years after high school.”

Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn, an Advocate Medical Group licensed clinical psychologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., says the effects of bullying impact more than just the victims.

“Interestingly, research also suggests that the bullies themselves, as well as witnesses of bullying, can also have long-term adverse experiences,” Dr. Woodburn says.

Dr. Woodburn points out that kids who bully others are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs as adolescents and adults
  • Get into fights
  • Vandalize property
  • Drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
  • Behave abusively toward romantic partners and children

Kids who witness bullying, Dr. Woodburn says, have increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as more problems with addictions and school truancy.

She stresses that efforts to deal with bullying should keep the big picture in mind.

“A comprehensive approach to reducing bullying and its adverse effects must help the victims of bullying, the witnesses of bullying, and the bullies themselves,” she says.

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About the Author

Eric Alvin
Eric Alvin

Eric Alvin, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. He has more than 20 years of experience in both internal and external health care communications, media relations, and creating online and print marketing content. He has a great love of classic cinema and is a big fan of Turner Classic Movies.

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