Every time around this year, I think of all the children returning to school or getting ready to return. I also think about those dreading that time or that will dread it after suffering with bullies during the year. Certainly, 2013 has seen more and more press about bullying. Certainly, more awareness is around today and the community rules and laws are starting to change.
2013 also saw the release of the major documentary “Bully” in movie theaters and a movement toward a reaction of less acceptance of bullying behavior. These are all positive things, but as seen in the movie “Bully” and in the news about kids being bullied and bullycide due to bullying, there is still much to do.
Further to the issue is the one that is the theme of this site, the long-term effects of bullying. More studies are showing that adults suffer from the bullying they either received or did during their informative school years. Just today, NPR released an article called “Kids Involved in Bullying Grow Up To Be Poorer, Sicker Adults”.
In the article, the author, Nancy Shute, discusses the research done recently at Duke University that shows that kids that dealt with bullying have more health, financial, and job issues as they mature. The article quotes researcher William Copeland’s findings.
“These kids are continuing to have significant problems in their lives, years after the bullying has stopped,” says William Copeland, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study, which was published in Psychological Science. “It really is a significant public health concern.”
…Researchers tested the health of 1,273 children ages 9 to 13 in western North Carolina, starting back in 1993. Participants were assessed annually until age 16, and then at 19, 21, and 24 to 26 years old. Parents were also asked whether their child had been involved in bullying…
About one-quarter of the children said they had been bullied. Another 8 percent said they had bullied others. And 6 percent said they had been on both the sending and receiving end.
Victims of bullying were more likely to have problems as adults, and were more likely to smoke, use marijuana, or consider themselves to be in poor health.
Former bullies didn’t fare much better from the study data and as has already been discussed here. These long-term effects also include mental disorders as has been discussed in other studies as well. There is a fine line between physical and mental health and this problem works on both ends.
So, at the end of the day and as we enter to another school year, I hope that more notice will be taken to the children around us. Do you see and ignore it, because you still feel kids are being kids? Studies are showing that then kids become adults who then are suffering. As we start another year, I hope you will remember that these long-term effects are showing to be real and that we must work to resolve and recover the bullied and the bullies so that they can have a more productive adult life after the bullying ends.