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Take Bullying Seriously! Consequences for children are really scary

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Bullied Children Grow Psychologically Damaged Adults

We usually think that kids can easily outgrow the pain from bullying, but it appears now the psychological scars are long-lasting. A new study discovered that bullying in childhood can result in serious psychological disorders in adulthood.

Researches in the past have shown that bullying increases the risk of depression, anxiety and low grades in school, as well as criminal behavior in adulthood. But the researchers now point out that their study is really significant, because it lasted for as much as twenty years. During this period, around 1,300 children from North Carolina were interviewed every year by Professor William E. Copeland and his team of the Duke University. At the beginning, the children were at the ages of 9, 11, and 13, and at the end of the study, they were already adults. The research included questioning the parents as well.

The participants were divided into three groups – victims, bullies and children who were both, or bully-victims. The bully-victims experienced the most severe psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and suicidal visions, both as children and adults. Subjects who were only victims as kids had also increased risk for anxiety and depression, while bullies had high risk of developing antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. Of course, there were another part of the participants who weren’t connected with bullying at all.

The Duke study also looked at the socio-economic and family status, as well as physical and sexual abuse within the family. Compared to those kids who weren’t bullied, all three groups had more serious family problems, but an interesting trend was observed – no matter what exactly was happening in the families, the scars from bullying in childhood remained. It became clear that the relationships between kids were as important, or maybe even more important, than the relationships within the family.

Many tend to think about bullying as a normal part of childhood and the rite of passage, but it turns out, according to the researchers, to have negative psychological outcomes for children, teens and adults. The reason is the change in kids’ ability to cope with the stress, especially in bully-victims. They experience more family issues and inability to control aggression, but fortunately, their number in general, is smaller than the other groups.

Bullying in the research refers to continuous and repeatedly happening verbal or physical harassment.

Verbal harassment is more often encountered nowadays and children can experience it even in the most expensive Dubai’s private schools. Teachers need to pay closer attention to bullying and meddle in bullying incidents, in addition to alerting parents as soon as possible. At present, many teachers and even school heads are demonstrating shocking lack of interest in students’ behavior. For example, some time ago we have met Helen Allen from Repton school in Dubai, who explained that instead of interfering in students’ problems, she prefers to teach. When asked where the teachers would be when a fight occurs on the senior school’s premises, she answered in front of a few of her colleagues: “We prefer to teach.” Such responses from teachers demonstrate their complete disengagement to students behavior. Hopefully, not many teachers think in the same way, but in general, awareness should be raised towards bullying and teacher’s efforts to combat it in schools.

What makes the latest study on bullying so important is the fact that it discovers that bullying in childhood causes permanent damage to people’s psychological development. It also points out that a different approach to children’s psychiatry should be taken. Doctors should look not only at what happens at home, but what happens between children.

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