A recent study out of the University of Illinois has found that the psychological pain and damage from childhood bullying is longer lasting that may have been previously anticipated. The researchers found that the long term affects of bullying can be as strong as damage done by sexual assault or rape.
The research team studied 480 college students. This is a ground breaking study because most of the research literature on bullying only concerned itself, for the most part, with young children and high school aged children. What they found was that the college aged students (18-22) were still greatly affected from earlier bullying and abuse.
The students were questioned about their exposure to bullying and abuse of all kinds from cyber, verbal and physical bullying to television violence and domestic abuse. They were also examined for signs of depression and severe anxiety as well as post traumatic stress disorder. At the end, the research team discovered, not surprisingly, that those that suffered from such bullying and abuse had a great many more emotional and mental disorders and challenges than those that never experienced such forms of verbal or physical abuse.
Dorothy Espelage is a noted and celebrated expert on childhood abuse, sexual harassment as well as gang and dating violence. She performed the study while at the University of Illinois but currently is working at the University of Florida as a professor of psychology.
She said of the study that, ” Bullying victimization significantly predicted students’ current levels of depression and anxiety over and above other childhood experiences. The prevalence of psychological distress in children who have been bullied is well documented and this research suggests that college students’ psychological distress may be connected in part to their perceptions of past childhood bullying victimization experiences.”
The study found that females suffered more intensely and had longer lasting effects than the males but the male damage could be, in no way, marginalized. For both males and females, childhood bullying was a major factor in them developing PTSD in particular.
Espelage said in conclusion that, “Practitioners, in collaboration with school officials, need to make all efforts to develop and implement programs that increase traumatized students’ sense of empowerment and control as they navigate through college.”
But, as seems usual, academia, once again, seems to tell the world what is most obvious by seeing while not offering any real remedies. No one, it seems, is willing to provide children with actual strategies that will allow them to confront the bullying behavior and to forcefully remove it from their lives.
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