Childhood bullying is worse than abuse for teenagers' mental health

Children bullied by their peers are five times more likely to develop anxiety in their teens and early 20s than children maltreated by adults

Health workers should join other agencies to tackle childhood bullying, according to experts who found bullying has a greater impact on young people's experiences of anxiety and depression than child abuse.

A study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, shows children who are bullied by their peers are five times more likely to experience anxiety in their teens and are nearly twice as likely to report depression and self-harm, than children who are maltreated by adults.

Child maltreatment included any physical or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival or dignity.

Professor Dieter Wolke from Warwick University, who led the study, said: ‘Until now, governments have focused their efforts and resources on family maltreatment rather than bullying. Since one in three children worldwide report being bullied, and it is clear that bullied children have similar or worse mental health problems later in life to those who are maltreated, more needs to be done to address this imbalance.

'Moreover, it is vital that schools, health services, and other agencies work together to tackle bullying.’

Read the full study

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