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.
Victims of bullying are 6 times as likely to have a serious illness, like cancer or diabetes, and develop a serious psychiatric illness. Victims are much more likely to be at risk for suicide, too.
Victims of bullying are six times as likely to smoke cigarettes as adults, four times as likely to have been charged with a felony, and more likely to smoke marijuana. Adults involved in bullying at all as children are also more likely to drop out of school and be obese.
Money & Work.
Children involved in bullying in any way are two times as likely to have difficulty maintaining a job and commit to saving money. Thus, they’re more likely to experience poverty in early adulthood.
Children involved in bullying in any way are more likely to have a harder time maintaining good ties with their parents or carrying on long friendships. Researchers did not find any impact on the likeliehood of getting married or having children, however.