HRC Blog

New Study Shows the Impact of Bullying 40 Years Later

Post by Rohmteen Mokhtari, Former HRC Coordinator, Family Project

A new study from King’s College London demonstrates just how long the effects of childhood bullying can stay with an individual.

Using data from the National Child Development Study, which followed all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during a single week in 1958, The study is the first to track the negative social, physical and mental health effects of bullying on development well into adulthood.

At ages 7 and 11, the parents of children in the study were asked if their child faced bullying. Nearly 40 years later researchers checked in with the adults to see how they were doing.

They found that, as a group, adults who had faced bullying as a child:

  • had poorer physical and psychological health
  • had poorer cognitive functioning
  • had an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts
  • had lower levels of education
  • were less likely to be in a relationship or have a strong social support network
  • reported lower quality of life and life satisfaction

“We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing-up.” Said Prof. Louise Arseneault, who was a lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry,

Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children. Programmes to stop bullying are extremely important, but we also need to focus our efforts on early intervention to prevent potential problems persisting into adolescence and adulthood.”

Schools should be places where children can learn and thrive without fear of hurtful name-calling or bullying of any kind. This study underscores the urgency of efforts to proactively address name-calling and bullying.

The HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program helps elementary schools across the country avoid gender stereotyping, embrace family diversity and end name-calling and bullying.

Our latest film, What Can We Do? Bias, Bullying, and Bystanders, shows what this can look like in real elementary classrooms. The film spotlights teachers generating open conversations with students about the impact of bullying and the power of students standing up for each other.

Watch the trailer and find many more resources to address name-calling and bullying.

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