A new study finds that children who are bullied are up to three times more likely to harm themselves through the age of 12.
For the study, published last month on the website of the British Medical Journal, researchers from King’s College London looked at 1,000 pairs of twins at ages 5, 7, 10, and 12. Of the 237 children in the study who were victims of frequent bullying, 8 percent cut or bit their own arms, pulled out clumps of their own hair, banged their heads against walls, or attempted suicide. Of the children who had not been bullied, just 2 percent had harmed themselves.
The authors found that several factors increased the risk of self-harm among the bullied children, including a family history of the behavior, maltreatment, and behavioral and emotional problems.
The authors said that while more effective programs are needed to prevent bullying, there must also be efforts to help children cope with the emotional distress arising from bullying.
A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2012 edition of Education Week as Bullying