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Bullying Could Have Long-term Health Consequences

Update Date: Oct 31, 2012 12:18 PM EDT
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According to Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, bullying among children is defined as repeated, negative acts committed by one or more children against another.

These negative acts could be verbal or physical in nature and may include acts like excluding other children from activities. Implicit in this definition is an imbalance in real or perceived power between the bully and victim.

Another form of bullying prevalent among children and adolescents these days is cyberbullying, the use of the Internet and related technologies to harass and harm someone repeatedly and deliberately. Not does bullying cause frustration and depression among children, it has also been linked to a number of suicide cases in the last few years.

Now, a new study by the Crime Victims' Institute at Sam Houston State University suggests that childhood bullying can lead to long term health consequences, including general and mental health issues, behavioral problems, eating disorders, smoking, alcohol use, and homelessness.

"What is apparent from these results is that bullying victimization that occurs early in life may have significant and substantial consequences for those victims later in life," said Leana Bouffard, Director of the Crime Victims' Institute.

"Thus, the adverse health consequences of victimization are much more far-reaching than just immediate injury or trauma. Understanding these long term consequences is important to assessing the true toll of crime on its victims and on society as well as responding to victims more effectively."

The study calls for investment in victim services and effective prevention programs such as those for violence prevention. Programs can help victims address the mental and physical trauma they have been through.

"This type of investment may also have the added benefit of reducing the long-term deleterious effects identified in this and other studies, thus reducing the high cost of victimization born by the victims themselves, the health care system and society in general," Bouffard said.

In the current study, some nineteen percent of those surveyed being bullied repeatedly.

Nineteen percent of those surveyed said they had been a victim of repeated bullying. The researchers through this study found that those bullied, had a negative perception about their general health and mental health and also had issues with emotional/mental or behavior. These victims were also more likely to have eating disorders or they were addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, experience subsequent violent victimization, or be homeless.

"While these are adverse consequences themselves, they may also serve as intermediate mechanism for even more long-term health issues, such as cancer, alcoholism, depression and other serious problems," said Maria Koeppel, co-author of the study.

The study was based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a long term study that tracks a sample of U.S. residents born between 1980 and 1984.

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