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These Are the Startling Consequences of Childhood Bullying

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These Are the Startling Consequences of Childhood Bullying


Bullying, it turns out, causes so much more than hurt feelings. In fact, as new research is showing, it can have dramatic consequences well into adulthood. And it’s not just for the victims of bullying, either; bullies themselves, as well as children who are both bully and are bullied, also have similar lifelong problems.

The study, co-authored by Duke University School of Medicine associate professor William Copeland and Dieter Wolke, tracked 1,273 students from 1993, when they were 9 to 13 years old, until they reached 24 to 26 years old. The children who were involved in bullying in any way, roughly 1/3 of the participants, were more likely to have poor health, face financial difficulties, and have trouble in the workplace, school, and even in social relationships. And this just adds to the research published last year by the same team, which found that bullied children were more likely to suffer from mental illnesses as adults.

Even when researchers removed underlying circumstances, such as pre-existing family issues and psychiatric illnesses, the results  stayed the same. Though victims were far more likely to face negative consequences as adults, bullies themselves do not fare as well as adults who had no involvement in bullying whatsoever.

Bullying, the authors wrote, is so much more than, “a harmless, almost inevitable, part of growing up.” Wolke stresses that the ideas about bullying need to be changed because, “the effects are long-lasting and significant.”

So what are these startling consequences of bullying? Click to the next page for a breakdown of the study’s findings.

Earlier6 of the World’s Most Unusual Schools

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
1:48PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Bullying does have a lasting impact on your life.

8:10AM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

underlines the importance of addressing the issue no matter who does the bullying and no matter where it is happening

8:23AM PDT on Sep 28, 2013

Ghastly that schools and other administrators let it slide or ignore given the serious harms involved

9:07PM PDT on Sep 27, 2013


1:50PM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

Bullying is abuse and the bullies should be severely punished. They are ruining peoples lives.

4:03AM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

Thanks Katie for this artic

10:34AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

I was bullied for most of my early life by a parent. I am sad to see all of these negative results, and sad to see so many people suffer, but at least it explains a lot.

11:53AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

My gay son was bullied in the 7th grade for being gay. I got him to a different school the next year (the bullying unbeknownst by me) where he thrived. He did think about suicide for a while, but all is well now. He is a fine man, and doing well. I am very grateful.

2:22PM PDT on Sep 7, 2013

The results of this study should be obvious, but yet when people seek therapy it still too often is assumed parents are at the root of the cause. Sometimes, traumatic damage has nothing to do with mommy and daddy, and though bullying should be considered as a cause of self-destructive behavior, it's too often overlooked, as is dating violence, etc.

11:08PM PDT on Sep 3, 2013

John S>>>so the young people aren't in trouble--they're just FLAWED???? are you kidding us???? no one is flawed (not even you, altho your logic is cruel.) I was bullied (abused) by my family. it left permanent scars. are you really going to turn to these poor kids/teens and tell them the real problem is them? that sort of reasoning leads to hopelessness and suicidal ideas to remove themselves from the pain.

abused people need all the care and attention they can get, until an abused person realizes they matter to some people. years after the abuse, I found some caring people and now I augment this caring w/positive meditation cd's to remind me that I matter to myself and that I have something to offer to others. it works!

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