The long term effects of bullying can lead to adults
having various disorders as well.
Bullying and Being Bullied Results in Greater Risk of
By Rick Nauert, Ph.D.
Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August
Monday, Aug 27 (Psych Central) -- Finnish
researchers have recently discovered that bullying
could result in serious mental disorders — mainly an
anxiety disorder or antisocial personality disorder —
among both the bullies and those being bullied.
While victims of bullying were more likely to develop
anxiety disorders, the bullies themselves were at
higher risk to develop antisocial personality
disorder. Those who have both been bullies and
bullied tended to develop both anxiety and antisocial
personality disorders, the researchers found. The
study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
Bullying was defined in the study as an aggressive
act that can be physical, verbal, or indirect, with an
imbalance of power in which the victim cannot
defend him or herself. In the study, the bullying
behavior also had to be repetitive.
Andre Sourander, the lead researcher, noted that
information about the long-term effects of bullying
had considerable public health significance that
would justify universal or targeted preventive
interventions and research directed at school
The Finnish researchers examined 2,540 boys born
in 1981. At the age of 8 years, these boys were
asked whether and how often they bullied other
children, were targets of bullying, or both. Parents
and teachers also answered questions about
bullying or victimization. This information was then
compared with psychiatric diagnoses in young
adulthood, made during medical exams for
compulsory military service and army registry at 18
to 23 years of age.
Bullying and victimization are both associated with
poor family functioning, parental violence,
subsequent conduct and personality disorders, and
Boys in the study who were both bullies and victims
were at five-times increased risk for a psychiatric
disorder than those who were neither a bully nor a
The study concluded that combined bullying and
victimization posed the greatest risk for psychiatric
morbidity followed by bullying and victimization.
“Both bullying and victimization during early school
years are public health signs that identify boys who
are at risk of suffering psychiatric disorders in early
adulthood,” the researchers wrote. “The school
health and educational system has a central role to
play in detecting these boys at risk.”
Researchers recommended increased efforts at
targeted mental health screening to identify bullies,
victims, and combined bullies and victims.
In a US survey, 17% of children in grades 6 to 10
reported being bullied, 19% being bullies, and 6%
being both bullies and victims.
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