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Bullied kids have more behavioral problems

Written by: Staff
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NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters) Children who are bullied during their early school years may experience behavior problems as a result, new study findings suggest.

''Our results indicate that bullying victimization in the early school years is an influential experience for a child's behavioral development and mental health problems,'' study author Dr. Louise Arseneault, of King's College, London, and her colleagues write.

''Prevention and intervention programs aimed at reducing mental health problems during childhood should target bullying as an important risk factor,'' they add.

According to previous research, victimization may be associated with mental health problems in adults. It is also known that some mental health problems in adults stem from poor mental health in childhood. In the current study, Arseneault and her team investigated bullying in childhood, looking at the extent to which bullying contributed to later adjustment problems.

They analyzed information for 2,232 subjects who participated in home-visit assessments at 5 years old and follow-up assessments at age 7.

Those assessments revealed that the majority of children had never bullied another child or experienced bullying between ages 5 and 7. However, 14.4 per cent were ''pure victims'' and 6.2 per cent were ''bully/victims,'' children who had been bullied and who also victimized others. Another 1,387 children who were not involved in bullying served as a comparison, or ''control,'' group.

Both groups of children had significantly more behavior problems and problems adjusting in school at 7 years old, compared with the control children, the investigators report in the journal Pediatrics.

Pure victims had more internalizing problems, such as being withdrawn, anxious or depressed, and were also more unhappy at school compared with children in the control group.

Bully/victims also had internalizing problems. In addition, they had fewer prosocial behaviors, such as being considerate of other people's feelings; and were less happy at school at age 7 compared with the pure victims and children in the control group.

In light of their findings, ''bullying could be regarded as a stressful life event that might influence children's normal development,'' Arseneault and her co-authors conclude.

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