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The study found that bullying is not a "harmless rite of passage"; instead, it can have serious adverse health outcomes in victims and perpetrators. Those outcomes can include depression, physical health problems, behavior and emotional problems, psychotic symptoms and loss of motivation.
The study, led by William E. Copeland, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, evaluated a total of 1,420 people assessed regularly from age 9 until 16. The participants were categorized as bullies, victims, a combination of both or neither.
The study focused on the impact that childhood bullying can have on both the victim and perpetrator later in life in an effort to find out whether bullying is a predictor of psychiatric problems in adulthood. The report stated:
Bullying is not just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. Victims of bullying are at increased risk for emotional disorders in adulthood. Bullies/victims are at highest risk and are most likely to think about or plan suicide. These problems are associated with great emotional and financial costs to society.
The study concluded that bullies and their victims were more likely to have psychiatric disorders in adulthood. They are also more likely to experience family hardship and childhood psychiatric problems. Victims of bullying had a higher rate of agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and suicide. Bullies were at risk for antisocial personality disorder.
“Bullying can be easily assessed and monitored by health professionals and school personnel, and effective interventions that reduce victimization are available,” stated the report. “Such interventions are likely to reduce human suffering and long-term health costs and provide a safer environment for children to grow up in.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, JAMA Psychiatry
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