A recent research which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows that children who have been dealing with bullying from other children are more psychologically affected later in life compared to the children who have been maltreated by grownups.
Researchers believe that this study should open the eyes on how serious bullying actually is. They discovered that children who have suffered from bullying had five times higher chances to go through anxiety and two times higher chances of going trough depression or self harming compared to those who are suffering abuse at home.
By being abused/maltreated researchers mean children going trough damaging emotional treatment, neglect, sexual abuse or any type of treatment that could affect the child’s health, development or well being.
So far, maltreatment and abuse have been the priority of officials when talking about the mental health of a child, explained the leader of the study, professor Dieter Wolke.
Scientists analysed information from 4.026 individuals from the UK ALSPAC and 1,273 individuals participating in the US Great Smoky Mountain Study.
The information from the ALSPAC reports helped scientists to study maltreatment cases from the age of 8 weeks up to 8.6 years, bullying cases at 8 years old, 10 and 13 and eventually the condition of their mental health at 18 years old.
From The Great Smoky Mountain Study researchers gathered data about maltreatment and bullying reports starting from 9 to 16 years old and also their psychological condition between 19 and 25 years old.
The ALSPAC analysis presented 8.5% children who were maltreated, 29.7% children who were bullied and 7% stated that they were maltreated and bullied at the same time.
The Great Smoky Mountain Study, 15% of the children claimed maltreatment , 16.3% claimed to have been bullied and 9.8% were both maltreated and bullied.
The results showed that the children who were bullied had higher chances of suffering from mental disorders compared to those who were maltreated/abused. Children who were both bullied and maltreated had also higher risks of developing mental issues and suffering from anxiety and depression.
Going trough bullying is not a normal stage of childhood and is not a harmless situation. Bullying has long term effects on the mind and it is crucial for schools and health institutions to take this matter seriously and try to collaborate in finding a solution to reduce bullying and its after effects, explained professor Wolke.
The UK survey obtained the personal information about the children from 8 weeks to 8 years from their mothers who were asked regularly if their kid has been put to any kind of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Hitting and verbal violence were also noted as a form of maltreatment. The children were asked too, if they were bullied at the ages of 8, 10 and 13.
The US survey gathered the data on bullying and maltreatment by interviewing the parents and the children with ages between 9 and 16 years old. All the kids were tested for depression and anxiety when they were 18 years old and were asked if they were thinking about harming themselves or if having suicidal thoughts.
An associate professor of experimental psychology from Oxford stated that the study was important as it brings out the tragic consequences bullying can have on children and that there was a serious need for zero tolerance projects. However she added that the study didn’t focus on investigating why bullying lead to mental issues.
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