Findings from a UK-US collaborative study underline social problems faced by those exposed to bullying in childhood, reports Ruchi Chopda. A study led by professor Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick and William E Copeland of Duke University Medical Centre, has shown that struggling to hold down a regular job and poor social relationships are some of the adverse outcomes faced in adulthood by those exposed to bullying in childhood. The research, the findings of which have been published in Psychological Science, looks beyond the study of victims to include all those affected — the victims , the bullies themselves and those who fall into both categories, namely, ‘bully victims.’
Around 1,420 participants were assessed four to six times in the 9-16 years and 24-26 years age group as part of this study. Elaborates Wolke, “The participants were assessed with structured interviews as well as health assessments (including blood samples).Crime data were harvested from the state records. Victims were more likely to develop health problems, both physical and psychological, were poorer, found it difficult to hold down jobs and had poorer social relationships with their parents and friends in adulthood . This was not explained by other family factors or psychological problems in childhood that were controlled for.” There was no real difference in the likelihood of being married or having children. The results show that while being the bully has very few ill-effects , bully victims are the most vulnerable group of all. The group presents the most significant health risk for adulthood being over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly or develop a psychiatric disorder.