Evidence grows of long-lasting effects of bullying

Researchers from Duke University and the University of Warwick have identified a number of adverse outcomes experienced by adults who were bullied as children, adding to the growing body of evidence that the effects of bullying can be significant. 

The study included more than 1400 adolescents ages 9- to 16-years-old who were assessed at least four times during those years, and then again between the ages of 24 and 26. The participants were classified as victims, bullies and “bully-victims.” The latter was found to be the most vulnerable group with the greatest risk for serious illness, tobacco use and mental health disorders.

The researchers also found that, as adults, bullies, victims or bully-victims:

  • Were more than twice as likely to have trouble holding down a job
  • Had difficulty with saving money
  • Had an increased likelihood of being impoverished
  • Struggled to form social relationships and maintain long-term friendships or strong ties with parents

In a press release from the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Dieter Wolke said:

“Some interventions are already available in schools but new tools are needed to help health professionals to identify, monitor, and deal with the ill-effects of bullying. The challenge we face now is committing the time and resources to these interventions to try and put an end to bullying.”

The study, “Impact of Bullying in Childhood on Adult Health, Wealth, Crime, and Social Outcomes,” was published in the journal Psychological Science.