WASHINGTON — Bullying can affect the body and soul of a child, and the damage can last for years.
Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital followed a group of 4,297 children and teens from 5th to 10th grade, regularly interviewing them about their experiences with bullying.
They say the damage from severe bullying is cumulative – that it builds over time – and can have a negative impact long after it stops.
The researchers found that bullying at any age can take a toll on both the physical and mental health of a child. They say bullied kids have more symptoms of depression and lower self-worth.
They also noticed that those who were victims of chronic bullying reported less interest in physical activities such as running, walking and playing sports. And children who admitted being the targets of consistent bullying over the course of years had the lowest health scores of all.
The researchers say their findings underscore the need for early intervention to stop bullying and to help victims recover. They say the sooner bullying is stopped, the less damage a child is likely to have down the road.
The results of the study will be published in the journal Pediatrics.