Adults exposed to bullying in childhood can suffer from serious illness, struggle to hold down a regular job and find it difficult to manage social relationships later in their lives, according to a new study.
Psychological scientists Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick and William E. Copeland of Duke University Medical Center led the research team, looking beyond the study of victims and investigating the impact on all those affected: the victims, the bullies themselves, and those who fall into both categories, so-called "bully-victims."
The 'bully-victims' were at greatest risk for health problems in adulthood, over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder compared to those not involved in bullying.
The results show that bully-victims are perhaps the most vulnerable group of all. This group may turn to bullying after being bullied themselves as they may lack the emotional regulation or support required to cope with it.
All the groups were more than twice as likely to have difficulty in keeping a job, or committing to saving compared to those not involved in bullying. As such, they displayed a higher propensity for being impoverished in young adulthood.
Although they showed no real difference in the likelihood of being married or having children, all groups showed signs of having difficulty forming social relationships, particularly when it came to maintaining long term friendships or good ties with parents in adulthood.
The research assessed 1,420 participants four to six times between the ages of 9 and 16 years and adult outcomes between 24-26 years of age.
The study is published in the journal Psychological Science. (ANI)