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article imageEffects on adults of school yard bullying or being bullied

By Hugh A. Ostrow     Aug 19, 2013 in Science
The long-term effects resulting from children who were bullies, who were victims, and who were both bullies and victims are becoming increasingly costly to our societies when these children become adults. It is time to clear the air.
It is clear that among human beings some conflict is natural or desirable. It is also evident that some interactions are not necessary or beneficial and bullying is usually a detrimental activity. According to psychologist Kim many in society unfortunately still view bullying as merely a normal and harmless part of social development that every child needs to go through as part of growing up and depend upon whether an individualist or collectivist culture is present; Scientific evidence now demonstrates otherwise. Studies in this area are often inconclusive because of a lack of consensus on research methodology, terminology, and influence of cultures. Norwegian psychologist and bullying expert Olewus defined bullying as whenever aggressive behavior or action intended to harm or disturb another individual occurs (usually repeatedly) and there is a distinct power imbalance between bully and victim.
Many children will go on to suffer long-term consequences of the bullying phenomenon as adults but the results may differ greatly for individuals who had different childhood experiences and not always in the way one would expect. Time recounts a recent conclusive study in JAMA Psychiatry which studied the long-term psychological effects of the bullying phenomenon and consequences in adulthood. Children not affected by bullying, children who were always the bully or perpetrator, children who were always the victim, and children who were sometimes the bully and sometimes the victim received periodic psychological examinations at ages 19, 21, 24 and 26. As might be expected children not affected much by bullying were found to have the fewest psychological issues. All of the other children affected by bullying displayed higher levels anxiety, depression, or antisocial personality disorders and also exhibited much more substance abuse. Time explains that children who always were the bully showed much higher levels of antisocial personality disorders as adults while the children who were always the victim displayed problems related to anxiety and emotional dysfunction including agoraphobia. Somewhat surprising was the outcome as adults for the children who were both bullies and victims; these children fared the worse because they were conflicted and exhibited much higher rates of depression, panic disorder, and suicidal tendencies (Time).
Children who were always the victim usually show increased problems in adulthood with physical health, social relationships, education, and even employment while children who were always the bully are more likely to take risks and have troubled personal relationships ( Forbes). Those children who had the roles of both bully and victim were more likely to have serious illnesses, drop out of school, have inconsistent employment, smoke, and be obese than the other two cohorts (Forbes).
More about Bullying, psychological pro, psychological outcomes
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