A youth clutches her knees

Bullying and mental health: The ties that bind

A youth clutches her knees

Bullying has had huge pickup in the media recently. It’s been a growing concern for years, but a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, and highlighted in the Boston Globe, shows the long-term impact bullying can have on the mental and physical health of students.

This excerpt from the Boston Globe article highlights the mental health impact over time.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and elsewhere followed nearly 4,300 children over a five-year period from fifth grade through 10th grade. They found that 30% of them had been bullied at some point, while those who experienced bullying on a weekly basis were more likely to be in poor mental health — depressed, angry, anxious, or sad — compared to those who were never bullied.

Not surprisingly, kids who experienced threatening behavior from their peers during the entire study were the worst off. Nearly 45% of this group had the worst mental health status compared with 31% of those who were currently being bullied and 12% of those who had been victims only in the past. Only 7% of those who had never experienced bullying had poor psychological health.

“Our finding clearly shows lingering effects from being bullied in the past, but the worst effect is when bullying is continuous and repeated over time,” said study leader Laura Bogart, a social psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The study also notes that early intervention is essential to reverse the long-term health  of bullying. As bullying gains more publicity, what do you think we should do to support youth? How can we help our kids stay above the turmoil in school and online?