Victims of middle or high school bullying are significantly more likely to experience mental health problems and/or unemployment in later life, according to a new study led by researchers at Lancaster University Management School in England.
The researchers analyzed confidential data on more than 7,000 students ages 14 to 16 from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England. The students were interviewed at regular intervals until they were 21 and then again at age 25.
The findings show that around half of the students had experienced some type of bullying. Overall, being bullied in school increased the extent of mental health problems at age 25 by 40 percent. It also increased the probability of being unemployed at age 25 by about 35 percent; and for those in work, it reduced their income by around 2 percent.
“Bullying is widespread in schools, and many studies document a negative relationship between bullying and educational outcomes,” said co-author Dr. Emma Gorman from the Lancaster University Department of Economics. “Bullying is also an important policy issue because of concern that in addition to educational outcomes, being bullied may lead to negative impacts on young people’s lives in the long-term, such as low self-esteem, mental health conditions and poorer job prospects.”
“Our research shows that being bullied has negative impact on important long-term outcomes, especially unemployment, income and ill-health. Being bullied causes detrimental effects on children’s lives not just in the short-term, but for many years after. These are more pronounced among pupils who experience persistent bullying, or violent types of bullying.”
“Our findings suggest that a more targeted approach to reduce the most extreme forms of bullying may be warranted.”
The data, which was reported by both the child and parents, recorded how frequently the children were bullied, and what type of bullying they experienced. Examples of bullying within the study include being called names; being excluded from social groups; being threatened with violence; and experiencing violence.
In addition to the harmful consequences later in life, the research shows bullying affects the academic achievement of the victims while they are in school, and beyond into further and higher education.
The research was presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Warwick.
Source: Lancaster University