It did not surprise me to learn that according to a recent study, kids who have been bullied grow up to be poorer and sicker than kids who have not. The fact that bullying takes a toll on the health and overall well-being of its victims seemed like a foregone conclusion. But I was surprised to learn that the kids who do the bullying are faced with the same fate.
For the study, researchers began testing the health of more than 1,200 kids in western North Carolina in the early '90s. They evaluated the kids every year they were in school until they reached the age of 16 and then again at 19, 21, 24 and 26 years old. Parents and kids were asked if the kids were ever involved in bullying.
About 25 percent of kids reported that they had been bullied. Another 8 percent said they had bullied others, and 6 percent said they had been on both sides of the bullying.
According to the study, victims of bullying were more likely to have health problems as adults. They were six times more likely to have a serious illness like cancer or diabetes, six times as likely to smoke, and four times as likely to have been charged with a felony.
And though the bullied fared the worst, former bullies themselves also faced similar health and financial problems.
"These kids are continuing to have significant problems in their lives, years after the bullying has stopped," said William Copeland, an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine and a co-author of the study. "It really is a significant public health concern."
It also goes against any notion that bullying is simply a harmless right of passage that kids must endure to get to adulthood. It does harm kids — both in childhood and well into their adult lives — and it's harmful for all parties involved.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.
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