August 19, 2013
Effects Of Bullying Follow Victims Into Adulthood
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A study found that adults who were bullied as a child were more likely to face serious illness, struggle to hold down a regular job and have poor social relationships. The results highlight the effects that childhood bullying has on individuals throughout their lives. The researchers also looked into a variety of factors that go beyond health-related outcomes.
"We cannot continue to dismiss bullying as a harmless, almost inevitable, part of growing up," psychological scientists Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick said in a statement. "We need to change this mindset and acknowledge this as a serious problem for both the individual and the country as a whole; the effects are long-lasting and significant."
Wolke and his colleagues investigated the impact of all those affected by bullying, including 1,420 participants who were either the victims or the bullies themselves. The "bully-victims" were at greatest risk for health problems in adulthood, making them over six times more likely to be either diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder.
The team also found that bully-victims often end up turning to bullying themselves because they may lack the emotional control or support required to cope with the psychological harm caused by their own experiences of being bullied.
"In the case of bully-victims, it shows how bullying can spread when left untreated," Wolke said in the release. "Some interventions are already available in schools but new tools are needed to help health professionals to identify, monitor, and deal with the ill-effects of bullying. The challenge we face now is committing the time and resources to these interventions to try and put an end to bullying."
Both bullies and bully-victims were more than twice as likely to have difficulties keeping a job compared to those not involved in bullying. The study, however, revealed few ill effects of being the bully, finding that the act of bullying itself didn't seem to have a negative impact in adulthood.
"Bullies appear to be children with a prevailing antisocial tendency who know how to get under the skin of others, with bully-victims taking the role of their helpers," Wolke explained in the press release. "It is important to finds ways of removing the need for these children to bully others and, in doing so, protect the many children suffering at the hand of bullies — they are the ones who are hindered later in life."
All of the groups studied showed signs of having difficulty forming social relationships, particularly when it came to maintaining long term friendships or good ties with parents in adulthood.
Back in June, researchers reported in the journal Human Performance that bullying doesn't just stop in childhood, but can carry on into the workplace as an adult. The team said that unattractive people were more likely to be bullied in the workplace than their better-looking counterparts. Officials at the Workplace Bullying Institute say that about 35 percent of the US workforce admits they have been bullied while at work.