According to Reuters, the impact on a child mental’s health later in life due to bullying by peers can be worse than child abuse, a new study reveals. Previous researches concluded that physical, emotional and sexual abuse have led to psychological problem later in life but this new study concluded that the impact of bullying by peers in school could even be worse than previously thought.
Reuters cited the new research by the University of Warwick, United Kingdom where the researchers were studying children with adverse experiences of maltreatment and bullying or bullying as a unique factor and found that the effects on the mental health by bullying alone was more profound than maltreatment.
“We found, somewhat surprisingly, that those who were bullied and maltreated were not at higher risk than those just bullied,” senior study author Dieter Wolke, a psychology professor at the University of Warwick.
The data comes from two large studies that tracked mental health in children and then followed them at least until at least age 18. One study, from the U.S., included more than 1,200 participants. The other, from the U.K., involved more than 4,000. As young adults, 19 percent in the U.K. group and 18 percent in the U.S. group had mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Wolke emphasized that parents, teachers and school administrators need to pay closer attention to bullying and to intervene as soon as possible if they find out a child is being bullied.
“It is particularly novel that they found bullying is a greater source of mental health problems than maltreatment,” said Catherine Bradshaw, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence in Baltimore.
“Schools often become the outlets where bullying comes to a head,” Bradshaw said. “Creating a sense of belonging has been consistently shown to be a protective factor as have programs that improve the school climate.”