4 years ago

Annual Research Review: The persistent and pervasive impact of being bullied in childhood and adolescence: implications for policy and practice

Louise Arseneault
Background We have known for some time that being bullied was associated with children's and adolescents’ adjustment difficulties and well-being. In recent years, we have come to recognise that the impact of childhood bullying victimisation on the development of mental health problems is more complex. This paper aims to review the evidence for an independent contribution of childhood bullying victimisation to the development of poor outcomes throughout the life span, including mental, physical and socioeconomic outcomes, and discuss the implications for policy and practice. Findings Existing research indicates that (a) being bullied in childhood is associated with distress and symptoms of mental health problems. This large body of evidence supports actions aimed at reducing the occurrence of bullying behaviours; (b) the consequences of childhood bullying victimisation can persist up to midlife and, in addition to mental health, can impact physical and socioeconomic outcomes. These new findings indicate that interventions should also focus on supporting victims of bullying and helping them build resilience; (c) research has identified some factors that predispose children to be targeted by bullying behaviours. These studies suggest that public health interventions could aim at preventing children from becoming the target of bullying behaviours from an early age. Conclusions It is a truism to emphasise that further work is needed to understand why and how young people's aspirations are often cut short by this all too common adverse social experience. In parallel, we must develop effective strategies to tackle this form of abuse and its consequences for the victims. Addressing bullying in childhood could not only reduce children's and adolescents’ mental health symptoms but also prevent psychiatric and socioeconomic difficulties up to adulthood and reduce considerable costs for society.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12841

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