Bullying can cause lasting mental health issues

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Bullying isn’t a normal part of growing up. It can lead to multiple mental health issues for kids and the adults they become. A new study outlines the impact of bullying and how long the effects can last.

Researchers followed more than 11,000 twins who took surveys about bullying. The researchers assessed the twins’ mental health at age 11 and again at age 16. Since the participants were twins, the study used one twin as a control for the other.

The study found that kids who were bullied had higher levels of anxiety, depression, paranoid thoughts and cognitive disorganization. Once the bullying stopped, these mental health issues faded, usually within five years. The good news? Kids are resilient.

Whom do bullies target?

The data from studying twins was especially interesting. It suggested that kids who were bullied were often more vulnerable to the attacks. Researchers stress that the victim isn’t to blame for bullying. But pre-existing mental health difficulties can make kids more susceptible to bullying. And bullying can even be seen as a symptom of pre-existing mental health issues.

Researchers said that preventing bullying can help kids avoid issues like anxiety and depression. And efforts should go beyond just stopping the bullying. Prevention should also focus on vulnerable children. Addressing existing mental health issues and promoting resilience can help improve mental health in the long run.

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Be smart about bullying

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 kids reports being bullied. It’s a widespread problem—and much more than just kids being kids. Bullying can have serious consequences.

How much do you know about bullying? Take our bullying quiz.


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