Though a great deal of effort has been poured into the prevention and addressing of bullying in childhood, an unfortunate number of children experience bullying while growing up. Sometimes resulting in emotional difficulties or an embarrassing experience, and sometimes causing severe physical issues, bullying can take on many forms, but a study recently performed in Turku, Finland defines bullying as “an aggressive act embodying an imbalance of power in which the victims cannot defend themselves accompanied by an element of repetition.” The study, which worked with over five thousand Finnish children, sought to take a closer look at the potential link between bullying during childhood and the manifestation of mental health concerns later on in life.
The research found that participating children who were victims of bullying –even those who themselves participated in bullying others– were more likely to develop perceivable mental health issues between the ages of thirteen and twenty four, and were also more likely to be prescribed with anti-depression or anti-psychotic medications or hospitalization. Interestingly, the data for girls showed a closer relationship between bullying and the use of psychiatric medications and professional care than did the data for boys.
While the results may not be shocking to those who have worked with the victims of bullying or who have experienced the problem first-hand, the study provides ample support to worldwide efforts to curtail the rates of bullying in and out of schools. Helping to secure greater awareness about the problem as well as increased funding and academic work for anti-bullying initiatives, the study has decidedly added its weight to the global call for a greater attention to making bullying a thing of the past.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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