The age at which kids first fall victim to bullying could influence how strongly they are affected, suggests a new study. And, surprisingly, it is not the youngest kids who are hurt the most in the long term.
Bullying can have long-lasting effects, but particularly when it begins in adolescence, the researchers say.
People subjected to either verbal or physical bullying are known to be at greater risk for developing depression, anxiety disorders or to behave violently. But not everyone reacts in this way.
Children bullied for the first time before they hit puberty seem to get over it, but those who are victimised for the first time late on in puberty seem to become more aggressive or are more likely to turn to drink as a means of coping. These are the conclusions of psychologist Matthew Newman and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin, US.
The team gave questionnaires to nearly 1500 college students regarding their experience of physical and psychological bullying before puberty – before high school – and in late puberty – at high school.
They assessed mood and mental state, judging by signs of anxiety or depression, such as sleeplessness. The group was also questioned about how they would react to certain challenges, such as being humiliated or provoked.