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Effects of Bullying Could Add Up and Last for Years in Children

Update Date: Feb 17, 2014 10:07 AM EST

Even if bullying might stop at a certain point in adolescent life, a new study is reporting that the effects of bullying can add up over the years. This study found that for victims, the negative effects that bullying might have on their physical and mental health could build up throughout the years.

For this study, the research team surveyed 4, 297 children when they were in fifth, seventh and 10th grades as a part of the Healthy Passages study. The survey was focused on children's physical and mental health in relation to bullying incidences. The children were from Alabama, California and Texas. The researchers measured mental health by examining emotions, such as feeling sad, afraid and angry. Physical health was measured by the children's ability to walk far and pick up heavy objects.

The team reported that around one-third of the participants stated that they had been bullied frequently at some point during the time span of the study. The researchers discovered that children who were being bullied at the same time of the survey scored lower on measures of physical and mental health in comparison to children who used to be bullied. For teenagers who were regularly bullied throughout their school life had the worse physical and mental health scores.

"I think this is overwhelming support for early interventions and immediate interventions and really advancing the science about interventions," Laura Bogart, from Boston Children's Hospital, told Reuters Health.

The researchers specifically found that for 10th grade students, seven percent of the students who were never bullied had low mental health scores while eight percent had low physical health scores. For children who were bulled in their past or currently bullied, roughly 12 percent and 31 percent of them respectively had low mental health scores. In terms of physical health, 12 percent of the children who were bullied in their past and 26 percent of the child who were currently being bullied scored poorly in measures of physical health. For children who were consistently bullied throughout their school career, 45 percent of them had low mental health measurements and 22 percent had poor physical health scores.

"The results still support the general pattern of more recent and chronic bullying being related to worse health, as compared to kids who are not bullied or bullied in the past only," Bogart added according to USA Today.

The researchers also found that incidences of bullying declined with increasing age. In fifth grade 22 percent of the students stated that they were bulled. By seventh grade, that percentage fell to five percent and then to three percent in 10th grade.

The study as published in Pediatrics.

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