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The psychological toll of childhood bullying can persist for decades or lifetime

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Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years, says a new study, "Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From a Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort," published online April 18, 2014 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. You also can read the entire article online of the study as a PDF file, "Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From a Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort." Another noteworthy article on the study by Alice G. Walton appears in the April 18, 2014 issue of Forbes, "The Effects of Childhood Bullying Can Last A Lifetime."

It's probable that if you were bullied by kids in your school or neighborhood when you were a child or teenager that you probably remember the names of the people at the time and what they did or said to you at the time. If it happened at thirteen, and you're now in your mid-seventies, you probably can recall the incident, the faces of the people, and what they did to you, and most likely you wish they'd apologize, but you're not going to bother anyone since they're grown, probably a lot wiser, and may have great grandkids of their own these days. Sometimes it take a lot of thought to realize kids' brains aren't fully grown until at least their twenties or beyond.

Negative impact of bullying was found to be persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood

For some people, bullying happening in the 8th grade at the age of 13 is remembered for a lifetime and often thought about when a person is in his or her mid-seventies and beyond. The negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later, according to new research by King's College London. You might also check out the websites of some of the anti-bullying programs such as,, or, or

Why couldn't they forgive and move on instead of letting problems of life wash over them like poverty? The study also showed at being bullied either occasionally or frequently was linked to greater psychological distress at age 23 and age 50.

The study showed that people who’d been bullied as children had more problems across life

The study also revealed that being bullied frequently as a child was associated with greater risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidality at age 45. But why would bullying in childhood or in teenage years also be linked to poorer cognitive function at age 50? And why is bullying so vividly remembered by so many seniors in their seventies and beyond, sometimes recalling the name of each bully, so many decades after childhood?

The authors suggest the bullying experience of the person who received the bullying behavior may mirror the known link between childhood maltreatment and cognitive function. On the other hand, the memory of the bullying experience could be a sign of early aging, both of which have been indicated by previous studies, according to the study.

The study is the first to look at the effects of bullying beyond early adulthood

The findings come from the British National Child Development Study which includes data on all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958. The study published today includes 7,771 children whose parents provided information on their child's exposure to bullying when they were aged 7 and 11. The children were then followed up until the age of 50. You also can check out an April 18, 2014 Forbes magazine article by Alice G Walton, "The Psychological Toll Of Childhood Bullying Can Persist For Decade." The article also comments on the study.

In the study, Dr Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the paper from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London, says, according to the April 17, 2014 news release, Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years, "Our study shows that the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood."

Just over a quarter of children in the study (28%) had been bullied occasionally, and 15% bullied frequently – similar to rates in the UK today

Individuals who were bullied in childhood were more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning at age 50. Individuals who were frequently bullied in childhood were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.

Individuals who were bullied in childhood were also more likely to have lower educational levels, with men who were bullied more likely to be unemployed and earn less. Social relationships and well-being were also affected. Individuals who had been bullied were less likely to be in a relationship, to have good social support, and were more likely to report lower quality of life and life satisfaction.

Professor Louise Arseneault, senior author, also from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London adds, according to the April 17, 2014 news release, Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years, "We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up. 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."

Bullying is characterized by repeated hurtful actions by children of a similar age, where the victim finds it difficult to defend themselves

The harmful effect of bullying remained even when other factors including childhood IQ, emotional and behavioral problems, parents' socioeconomic status and low parental involvement, were taken into account. Professor Arseneault adds, according to the news release, "40 years is a long time, so there will no doubt be additional experiences during the course of these young people's lives which may either protect them against the effects of bullying, or make things worse. Our next step is to investigate what these are."

The British Academy and the Royal Society funded the study. You can check out the the study online, "Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From a Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort." Authors are Takizawa R, Maughan B, and Arseneault L. The study appears online in the American Journal of Psychiatry..

About the National Child Development Study:

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) follows the lives of 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1958. Also known as the 1958 Birth Cohort Study, it collects information on physical and educational development, economic circumstances, employment, family life, health behavior, wellbeing, social participation and attitudes. The NCDS is run by the Center for Longitudinal Studies, an Economic and Social Research Council resource center based at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Older adults and sadness

Another noteworthy news of recent research include, "Internet use can help ward off depression among elderly." It's estimated that as many as 10 million older Americans suffer from depression, often brought on by feelings of loneliness and isolation. And there's also the news release, "Internet use may cut retirees' depression," about a new study, "Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis," published online since March 26, 2014 in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences. You may wish to check out the abstract of that study.

Spending time online has the potential to ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to research published online in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. In the study, "Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis," the authors report that Internet use reduced the probability of a depressed state by 33 percent among their study sample.

On another note, you might check out the recent news release, "Our relationship with God changes when faced with potential romantic rejection." Spring holiday season is a time when many people in the world think about their relationships with God. New research explores a little-understood role of God in people's lives: helping them cope with the threat of romantic rejection. In this way, God stands in for other relationships in our lives when times are tough.



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