Bullying's effects don't end in the schoolyard - they cast a shadow across adulthood, when victims are far more likely to have emotional, behavioral, financial, and health problems, a new study suggests.
Those who were both victim and perpetrator as schoolchildren fared the worst as adults: they were more than six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness or psychiatric disorder, and to smoke regularly, according to the study published last week in the journal Psychological Science.
The adverse results for victims and victim-perpetrators were found even when such factors as family hardship and childhood psychiatric disorders were statistically controlled.
Victim-perpetrators are "the most socially defeated because they actually do try to fight back, but they're unsuccessful," said Dieter Wolke, a University of Warwick psychologist and lead author.
Bullies tended to enter adulthood with similar problems as their victims, but few of those adult outcomes were strongly correlated with bullying itself. Bullies tended to engage in riskier behavior and to have criminal records.