Children who are bullied often carry the scars of their experience into adulthood and suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Even bullies themselves are at risk for psychological problems when they grow up, researchers said in a new study. And children who have been both perpetrator and victim suffer the worst as adults.
"There has been a lot of research into how bullying affects children short-term. We followed kids into their early 20s to see if there was any kind of lasting effect of having been bullied," said study author William Copeland, an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
"We found kids that had been just bullied in childhood seemed to be at an elevated risk for a number of different anxiety disorders when they were adults," he said. "Kids that had been bullied and also bullied other kids seemed to be in the worst lot. They had thoughts of depression and hurting themselves when they were adults. They have the worst long-term outcomes."
Copeland believes the solution is clear. "If we could set up a culture in schools where this isn't allowed to happen, then, I think, there are a lot of these problems we can avoid," he said.
The report was published Feb. 20 in the online edition of JAMA Psychiatry.
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