10 Ways Childhood Bullying Stays With You for Life

Everywhere I turn these days there seems to be another newspaper or online story about childhood bullying and the often tragic effects on children. Too often, a suicide or criminal activity is linked to the event or an outrageously inappropriate response to bullying from authorities is highlighted. We forget that at the core of the story is a human being suffering ongoing abuse and psychological trauma in an environment that should be safe and supportive.

New research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that this trauma does not simply fade from memory as bullied children become adults. Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London found that the negative effects of childhood bullying are evident decades after the childhood years are over and they include a host of social, physical and mental health effects that continue to plague the victims even as they reach the age of 50.

The findings were extracted from the British National Child Development Study, a database on children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958.  The authors of the new study drew on research that followed 7,771 children up to the age of 50. The parents of these individuals provided information on their child’s exposure to bullying when they were 7 years old and again at 11 years of age.

According to lead author, Dr. Ryu Takizawa, “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.”  The data revealed that 28 percent of the children in the study had been bullied occasionally and 15 percent had been bullied frequently.  The researchers confirmed that these rates of childhood bullying are similar to those in the United Kingdom today.

Bullying statistics in the United States are similar. The federal government reports between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school. A smaller percentage has been cyberbullied. Most bullying consists of verbal and social bullying and is most likely to occur in middle school.

The Kings College study reported that individuals who experienced childhood bullying were more likely to suffer from poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning at age 50. Victims of frequent childhood bullying were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts in middle age.  The social impacts are equally alarming as bullied children attained lower educational levels and men who experienced bullying as children were more likely to be unemployed or to earn less at their jobs than non-bullied counterparts.

Adults who were bullied as children reported lower quality of life and life satisfaction.  They were also less likely to be in a relationship or to have good social support upon which they could rely.  When the researchers excluded other factors such as childhood IQ, emotional and behavioral problems, parents’ socioeconomic status and involvement in their child’s life, the harmful, lifelong impacts of bullying remained.

Senior study author, Professor Louise Arseneault, sums up the issue of childhood bullying perfectly.  She states that, “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.”


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Christine Jones
Christine J2 years ago

Spot on. The long-term effects of bullying are very under-rated. Sure, some children will brush it off and not give it a second thought, especially if they have loving, stable families and strong friendships with their peers. However, others who are not so lucky can suffer for the rest of their lives.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Bullying lasts forever. Trust me!

Sydney M
Sydney M3 years ago

For those who think that "being bullied" is just a part of growing up or don't understand why the victims just don't fight back .... you aren't seeing the whole picture. While some bullied kids have the confidence and family / friend support to "fight back," many others don't. The truth of the matter is that a lot of bullied kids are also being bullied and abused at home. This leaves no safe environment and no one to turn to. Many of these kids are afraid to tell anyone, for fear of reprisal, let alone fight back. As a society we all need to watch out for these kids. That includes teachers, school counselors, pediatricians, social workers, neighbors, family members and anyone else in the community who sees or suspects that a child is being bullied or abused. Silence is the real enemy here. If you see a child being bullied .... please do something about it.

Mary L.
Mary L3 years ago

To stop it you have to change the culture that idolized strong violent males who, "don't take nothin' from nobody!" I know it's a triple negative, but there you have it.

It's the herd. Fearing that they will be next to be picked on, they join in picking on people to avoid being singled out.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse3 years ago

Bullying continues and can and does kill the victims. Enough! Oppressors must be charged and punished no mater whom they may be...even principals whom bully teachers. Ask me.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda3 years ago

This figures. Sometimes it is not easy to reject the role of victim, especially if the bullying is for things that one cannot alter. For instance, racial discrimination, being different from the others in any way - for instance, being more intelligent. One does not have to take on the role of victim, but if one develops autoimmune disease because of it, then that is no role. One really is a victim even if one puts on a brave face and adapts to it.

Angela J.
Angela J3 years ago

Thank you.

Diane Wayne
Diane Wayne3 years ago


Bailey Anderson
Bailey R3 years ago

Wow, thats terrible to hear. I hate how people will bully people until the point of suicide and then they make the suicide seem like it came out of no-where

Leia P.
Leia P.3 years ago

so horrible