Hitting harder than a fist: Childhood bullying linked to teen psychosis

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bullying causes more than tears, according to new research. Scientists reporting in the May issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry say that childhood bullying can lead to teenage psychotic episodes such as delusions and paranoia. Here to tell us more is study co-author Dieter Wolke, a professor of developmental psychology and individual differences at the University of Warwick, England.
"If they're in a class they're going to pick on every child. Then they're going to hone in on the child that shows a reaction — for example cries or runs away — and has very little support."
—University of Warwick professor Dieter Wolke on bullying among children

To read the study for yourself, click here. To help someone you know is being bullied, check out the website Stop Bullying Now. Are you a target of workplace bullying? Here are some tips to stop bullying at work. For more on why bullies feel the need to target people, read Why Bullies Bully.

For more on the effects that childhood trauma has on our biological development, listen to The Takeaway's February 2009 conversation with Michael Meaney, Keep your hands to yourself: Child abuse affects our genes.


Dieter Wolke

Hosted by:

Farai Chideya


Molly Webster

Comments [6]

Thorvald Barrett

Bullying needs to be dealt with by the person being bullied. The problem with our society is that we rely on "authority figures" to solve all our problems.

Dec. 18 2009 05:58 PM
Peggy Moss

You make a great point, Malcolm Gauld. I think it is hard to over-estimate the importance of creating and fostering a climate in which kids (and then adults) have an opportunity to benefit from taking on responsibility for themselves and each other.

We spend too much time and effort finger-pointing and labeling kids (just exactly how does a bully lose that label, once it has been affixed, by the way?) Most of us have been all three: bully, target, and bystander. Once a kid has been called "bully" or in the case of girls, "mean" - it gets mighty hard to create positive expectations, hope, and community.

Let's back up and think about how to help kids solve problems, deal with each other respectfully. It can be done. Prevention is key.

May. 05 2009 05:01 PM
Malcolm Gauld

We can do so much more than react to bullying-which is the only recourse we have once it begins. What about prevention?

In response to the sad stories and sobering statistics, anti-bullying campaigns have sprung up all over the country, offering training and support to help adults intervene.

But what about an approach where the solution to bullying doesn't lie in adult mediation of incidents, rather in prevention?

Suppose we began to train children to help each other…much like we train them to do anything. ...we taught them they were responsible for expecting the best out of each other. I have worked extensively with families and educators on this approach and have seen over 30 years the positive impact it can have.

Children begin life naturally dominated by an inherent self-centeredness, self-gratification, and self-protection instincts.

As they enter adolescence, they are ready for mentors develop their character.

These efforts develop the leadership potential in children.

May. 05 2009 09:05 AM

My father attended 14 primary schools during his education and was each time confronted by the alpha boy and bully of each new school. He fought them like a wild cat every time, giving them much more trouble than they bargained for. My father taught me that bullies are essentially cowards and more interested in dominating than in having an actual fight. Put everything you've got into the fight each and every time. The bully will soon learn that you're more trouble than it's worth.

May. 05 2009 08:53 AM
Boston Ducky

The problem of bullying is not limited to children and teens.

I am an employee of a professional services firm. A colleague resigned from his assignment after two years on the job and he went on medications. He complained of the bad behavior of the Hospital’s project rep.

I replaced my friend on this project and for the next two years was subject to a torrent of verbal abuse, false accusations, screaming, malicious e-mails and nasty phone messages. I complained to the Hospitals on several occasions and was roundly ignored. As the COO put it, I hired this woman to be our ‘drill sergeant’ to get the project done. I too had to depart the project under my doctor’s diagnosis of clinical depression and now take medications and need continued counseling.

Perhaps you should have a program on adult abuse and bullying. Because I am not a direct employee of the Hospital, I appear to not have recourse to protection under workplace bullying laws.

May. 05 2009 07:14 AM

Bullying in childhood carries over into adulthood. Bullying in the workplace has similar consequences. I have been in situations where individuals bully coworkers resulting in emotional stress that manifests as depression or repressed anger that can become explosive. Bullying is destructive at any age and needs to be dealt with by those in authority. By stopping it in childhood, it can save those children whose self image is developing and it can stop the bullys from growing up inflicting pain on their adult peers, spouses, families, etc.

May. 05 2009 07:08 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.