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Does bullying cause problems in later years?

A Swedish study found that a group of 23 year old adults who had been consistently bullied as children were, in some ways, still affected by their experience. When compared to a group of adults who had not experienced bullying at school, it was found that they had lower self-esteem and were more likely to be depressed.
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Article details

D Olweus (1993) 'Bullying at School: what we know and what we can do', Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Limited. Click the book image to buy it online and read some excerpts.
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Author details

Professor Dan Olweus was the first person to carry out a thorough research project on Professor Dan Olweusbullying. This large, long term study which began in Sweden in 1970, was to provide the inspiration for many who felt that bullying in schools should be challenged rather than accepted. Since the 1970s, his work in this area had continued with force. Indeed, in 1997-99, he led a group in a large project which introduced the widely respected Olweus (anti-bullying) programme to schools in Norway. Professor Olweus is based at the Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen in Norway and can be contacted by email.

In the late 1990s, over 1,000 adults in England were asked about bullying in childhood. 828 had been bullied and 216 had not. Many of those who had been bullied felt that they were still suffering as a result. Many said that as adults they felt angry and bitter, while feelings of fear had lessened. Many felt that the bullying had made it difficult for them to have successful relationships. Nearly three quarters of adults bullied in childhood said they had difficulty making friends. Many of the men and women also said that were still afraid of new situations and challenges, and suffered from low self-esteem.
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Article details

Kidscape (1999) 'Long-term Effects of Bullying. Kidscape Survey', Kidscape, London. This article can be downloaded from the publications section (then 'download') of the Kidscape website.

A study of 190 lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women, who were bullied at school, considered the long-term effects of this childhood experience. When compared to lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women, who had not been bullied at school, the participants revealed a greater tendency to exhibit depressive tendencies. However they did not suffer from low self-esteem and they had a positive attitude to their sexuality generally. The study did not find that they had particular problems with anxiety or had insecurity problems with close relationships,and so did not support the findings of other studies by Gilmarton (1987) and Olweus (1993).
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Article details

I Rivers (2001) 'The Bullying of Sexual Minorities at School: its nature and long- term correlates', in 'Educational and Child Psychology', Volume 18, Part 1 pages 32 - 46. See also 'Homophobic Bullying and Its Long-Term Effects. Summary of Findings'. This summary can be downloaded here.

The article summarised above (from 'Educational and Child Psychology') includes reference to the following articles: B G Gilmarton (1987) 'Peer Group Antecedents of Severe Love-shyness in Males', in 'Journal of Personality' Volume 55, pages 467-489; and D Olweus (1993) 'Victimization by peers: antecedents and long-term outcomes', in 'K H Rubin and J B Asendorf (editors) 'Social Withdrawal, Inhibition and Shyness', pages 315-341, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
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Ian RiversAuthor details

Dr Ian Rivers is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the College of Ripon and York St John in York. He has published widely on issues affecting lesbian and gay young people. The main focus of his research is homophobic bullying. Dr Rivers may be contacted by email.
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