Bullying at school leaves long-lasting effects on children’s bodies and minds, even years after the bullying ceases, a new study shows.
Researchers found that bullying had its greatest influence on the health of kids who were repeatedly target, and it was linked with poorer mental and physical health, increase symptoms of depression and lower self-esteem per Fox News.
The study also showed that victims of recent bullying had it worse than students who had been picked on by their peers further in their past.
“The effects of bullying can snowball over time,” said study researcher Laura Bogart, a social psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Children who experience bullying continuously, such as for multiple years in a row, had more severe effects, she said.
“The results are a strong argument for an immediate, early intervention of bullying,” Bogart said.
The findings were published online Monday and will be featured in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.
The study surveyed nearly 4,300 students attending public schools in Houston, Birmingham, and Los Angeles. The data was collected from students in fifth, seventh, and tenth grades, and also from their parents.
To determine whether kids were frequently or repeatedly bullied in elementary, middle, and high school, they were questioned how often another kid had pushed or kicked them in a hurtful way during the last year. Questionnaires were completed describing their mental and physical well-being.
By the 10th grade, about 30 percent of the students indicated that they had been bullied.
At all three grade levels, students who indicated they had never been bullied before reported being the most psychologically healthy.
Children who had experienced bullying in the distant past had lasting psychological wounds, although not to the same level as those being bullied currently or who were repeatedly bullied.
Bogart suggested that cyberbullying be looked at in future studies.