Childhood bullying linked to mental health issues in adolescence

On the British website Nursing in Practice, Helen Quinn unpacks new research showing a correlation between bullying at a young age and distrust and other forms of emotional distress during adolescence: 

“Children who experience bullying at a young age are at a much higher risk of developing significant mental health issues by age 17, a new study has found.

The research is the first to link peer bullying and the development of interpersonal distrust with later mental health conditions.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow and UCLA Health in the US found that children who are bullied at age 11 become more distrusting of others by age 14 and, at 17, are 3.5 more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and anger.

The findings, published in Nature Mental Health, could help provide evidence based interventions to counter the negative mental health impacts of bullying. . . . 

The researchers analysed data from 10,000 children in the United Kingdom who were studied for nearly two decades as part of the Millennium Cohort Study. The data was used to test a theory known as ‘Social Safety Theory’, which predicts that socially threatening experiences, such as bullying, degrade an individual’s mental health by fostering the belief that others cannot be trusted and that the world is a dangerous and threatening place. By examining children who had been bullied at an earlier age, the researchers were able to investigate the link between bullying, mistrust and mental health issues.

Children who were bullied at age 11 were found to have developed greater interpersonal trust at age 14 and, by age 17, were 3.5 times more likely to suffer from mental health problems.”

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