A new study reveals that the effects of bullying last well into adulthood and also gives reasons why bullying should never be brushed off or dismissed as harmless because the consequences could be devastating.
A research team from the Duke University Medical Center led by Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick and William E. Copeland of Duke University Medical Center assessed 1,420 young people four to six times between the ages of 9 and 16 years and again between the ages of 24 and 26.
The investigation studied the impact of bullying on all those involved: The victims, the bullies, and those who fall into both categories, known as “bully-victims.”
The study found that bully-victims may be the most vulnerable group of all. They had the greatest risk for adulthood health problems and are over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder compared to those not involved in bullying.
People in all three groups also showed signs of having difficulty forming social relationships, particularly when it came to maintaining long-term friendships or good ties with parents in adulthood.
The study found that people in all three groups were more than twice as likely to have difficulty in keeping a job or committing to saving money compared to those not involved in bullying. This meant they had a higher likelihood of being impoverished in young adulthood.
“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,” said Wolke.