Bullying does more psychological harm to children than abuse or neglect, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Warwick University analysed data on 5,299 young people in the UK and the United States. They looked at cases of abuse and neglect during different periods of childhood, which they referred to as “maltreatment”, as well as children who were bullied along with any long-term mental health issues by the time the subjects were between 18 and 25 years old.
They found that children who were bullied were more likely to develop mental health issues such as “anxiety, depression or suicidal tendencies” than those who had been maltreated. Those who had experienced both were the most likely to develop such problems.
Warwick University psychology professor Dieter Wolke was the lead author on the study. He said that bullying “is not a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up; it has serious long-term consequences”.
Schools and health services should “work together to reduce bullying and the adverse effects related to it”, he added.
The research was published in the latest edition of academic journal The Lancet Psychiatry.
Earlier this year, a survey of British parents found that more than half of them would not know if their children were being bullied online.
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