New Study Compares Effects of Bullying to Child Abuse
A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies last month has found the children who are bullied by their peers may be more likely to develop long-term mental health problems than children who are abused by adults.
Method of the Bullying Study
According to Reuters, Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick and colleagues looked for associations between being bullied, maltreatment by an adult, and the prevalence of long-term mental health problems.
To do this, the researchers analyzed two major studies, one from the U.S. and one from the U.K., which tracked mental health in children and followed the subjects until the age of 18. The studies provided a sample population of roughly 5,200 children.
19% of the U.K. group and 18% of the U.S. group had developed long-term mental health issues, including anxiety, depressions, and suicidal ideation. These populations were then adjusted for family factors that may have contributed to the psychological issues.
Results of the Bullying Study
“We found, somewhat surprisingly, that those who were bullied and maltreated were not at higher risk than those just bullied.” – Senior study author Dieter Wolke, professor of psychology at the University of Warwick as published by Reuters
After adjusting for multiple variables, the researchers noted that while an increased risk of depression existed in the U.S. children, this risk was not present in the U.K. group.
More surprising was that mental health problems were more prevalent in children who were bullied by their peers than in children who were the victims of abuse by an adult.
While experts who reviewed the study noted the possibility that parents and children underreported instances of abuse, they do not refute the significance of the correlation between bullying and negative psychological outcomes.