New studies indicate that victims of childhood bullying may continue to suffer from their experiences decades later. In fact, the psychological scars from playground bullies may still affect their self-esteem, financial success and their personal relationships in middle age.
The ill effects of childhood bullying have been analyzed extensively, but a new study looked at what happens to those children who were bullied as kids well into their adult years and career. They found that those who were victims of bullies suffered higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicide decades later. This begs the question as to whether people can recover and re-establish self-esteem after a childhood of trauma.
The New Research
Previous research established that people who were bullied as kids continued to suffer into their 20s. New research published by the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that the aftershocks from bullying can affect someone throughout their life.
Researchers reviewed data on 18,000 adults who were born in the United Kingdom during a single week in 1958. Those babies have been tracked periodically over the past 50 years as part of a U.K. National Child Development Study. When the study subjects were in grade school, the researchers interviewed their parents about whether their child had been subjected to bullying. Overall, 28 percent of the kids in the study were reported to suffer from bullying occasionally and an additional 15 percent were subject to frequent bullying. By the time the people tracked in the study were in their mid-40s, the 78 percent still being tracked were assessed at age 45 for anxiety and depression. Then, the 61 percent still participating in the study once they turned age 50 were asked about their psychological distress.
The researchers found that those who were subjected to bullying as children were more likely than those who were never bullied to suffer from depression, poor health, and have more cognitive functioning issues. In addition, those bullied as kids had a greater likelihood of anxiety disorders and committing suicide. The study also found the consequences of bullying to be economic, too. Those bullied as kids wound up completing fewer years of school and were more likely to earn less than those who were never bullied. Additionally, adults who were bullied as kids were not as likely to have a spouse or domestic partner at age 50.
Can Self-Esteem Be Restored?
The new research does not look at what can be done to help victims of bullying. But, there are numerous articles out there on how to boost low self-esteem brought on by emotional triggers. The important thing people who have been bullied can do is get help. Raising self-esteem is reportedly possible through identifying triggers to negative self-esteem and building tools to express and let go of the feelings aroused by whatever is reminding you about the childhood trauma.
The findings at the new research show compellingly that bullying victimization can survive the test of time. Parents need to help the victim develop skills to heal the scars from childhood bullying so there isn’t a lifelong impact.
Child Bullying Victims Still Suffering At 50 – Study – BBC
The Effects Of Bullying Last A Lifetime – Telegraph
How To Raise Your Self-Esteem – Psych Central
Victims Of Bullying Live With The Consequences For Decades, Study Says – Los Angeles Times
Reclaim Your Authentic Self: 4 Steps To Recover From Bullying And Abuse – Tiny Buddha