Childhood Bullying Could Result In Psychosis

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Childhood bullying is a real problem in our country. According to, an estimated one in four children is bullied at school on a regular basis. While childhood bullies are far from new, there are few studies that have been done to determine just how much being bullied as a child will impact that person as an adult. But now, a new study is claiming that children who experience bullying could go on to develop psychosis later—and it’s not just the victims who are affected.

A group from the University of Warwick and the University of Bristol studied 4,620 children ranging from ages 8 to 11. They discovered that the children who were bullied over a number of years, as well as those who were bullies themselves, were over four times as likely to suffer a psychotic episode by the time they turned 18 than peers who had never experienced bullying at all. Even children who were only affected by bullying for a brief period were at an increased risk.

The psychotic experiences typically included paranoia, hearing voices and hallucinations. Professor Dieter Wolke, a chartered psychologist, was quoted in the journal Psychological Medicine as saying, “We want to eradicate the myth that bullying at a young age could be viewed as a harmless rite of passage that everyone goes through—it casts a long shadow over a person’s life and can have serious consequences for mental health.”

Whether they’re the bullies themselves or being picked on at school, many children are hesitant to tell their parents what’s happening. This is usually because they are embarrassed or worried about getting in trouble. Therefore, it is important for parents and guardians to educate themselves on the signs of bullying. Here are some signs that your child may be getting bullied:

  • Decline in school performance
  • Acting afraid to go to school or making excuses to stay home
  • Becoming withdrawn and depressed
  • Noticeable decline of self-esteem
  • Bruises, scrapes or other signs of fighting

If your child is the one doing the bullying, watch for these signs:

  • Easily frustrated
  • Shows aggression toward other children and possibly even adults
  • Has the need to control situations and dominate others
  • Shows a lack of empathy to others who are being bullied or having problems
  • Views violence positively

If you suspect your child of being bullied, it’s important to handle the issue with care. Encourage your child to avoid the bully and focus on his or her true friends. The two of you can go together to the school and talk to the staff about developing a plan. Contact your local counseling center for help in working with your child to build up self-esteem and confidence.

Childhood bullying is usually the sign of a deeper issue. If you think your child might be a bully, contact a mental health therapist and set up counseling sessions with a professional who can help. Bullying might be a big problem, but with proper attention and care, it doesn’t have to have such lasting results.