Study Shows: For Mental Health, Bullying is as Bad as Abuse



Several years ago, bullying became a hot topic in the US and worldwide – suddenly grabbing tremendous media attention. The serious effects that bullying can have on a child’s psychology cannot be overstated, with new studies showing that bullying can impact adult mental health in ways worse than abuse.

The Lancet Psychiatry published research that detailed the effects of bullying on a child’s mind. Research team leader, Professor Dieter Wolke of Warwick Medical School, stated:  “The mental health outcomes we were looking for included anxiety, depression or suicidal tendencies…Our results showed those who were bullied were more likely to suffer from mental health problems than those who were maltreated…Being both bullied and maltreated also increased the risk of overall mental health problems, anxiety and depression in both groups.”

This research only makes what we already know more serious – bullying is not a harmless inevitability of childhood but an action with long term negative consequences. Furthermore, it is time that schools and youth workers take into consideration these enlightening statistics. The study in questions compared two groups of children: 1420 American kids and 4026 British children. In both groups, bullying and its results were assessed at different times in the children’s lives.

The results:

8.5% of UK children reported abuse
29.7% of UK children reported bullying
7% of UK children reported both abuse and bullying
15% of US children reported abuse
16.3% of US children reported bullying
9.8% of US children reported abuse and bullying.

(“abuse” referred to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse between ages 8 weeks and 8 years of age)

The results showed that children who were bullied by their peers were at a higher risk of developing mental health issues than children who were maltreated at home, as were children who were both bullied and abused. This indicates that bullying has a unique impact upon mental health.