Childhood Bullying and Its Consequences
Sleep-related problems such as nightmares, sleep walking and night terrors are known collectively as parasomnias. The relationship between anxiety and parasomnias in young people is associated with bullying.
As more and more is being understood about the effects of bullying it becomes clear that the longer bullying lasts the greater its effect on the long-term health of the victim. All schools have some form of bullying policy but the degree to which it is enforced or is effective probably varies greatly.
When researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital examined the issue they discovered that bullying at any age is associated with worse mental and physical health, increased symptoms of depression, and low self-worth. Chronic bullying makes matters worse, with victims reporting increased difficulties with physical functions such as walking, running or sports-related activities.
Bullying also casts a long shadow. Even at the age of 50, children who were bullied at school are more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive function. According to research undertaken by King’s College London, and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, frequent bullying at school is associated with an increased risk of anxiety disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. Social relationships also suffer with bully victims less likely to be in a relationship, to have good social support and enjoy a higher quality of life satisfaction.
But back to an earlier stage in life where it is reported that children who are bullied at ages 8-10 are more likely to suffer with parasomnias. Previous studies also show that being female, having persistent sleep problems and emotional problems in childhood increases the chances of parasomnias.
Bullying is often hidden although its ramifications may be clearer to see. Anxiety, disruptive behavior or withdrawn behavior are clues. If the child is also experiencing parasomnias then this may indicate the child is being bullied and should be investigated.
L. M. Bogart, M. N. Elliott, D. J. Klein, S. R. Tortolero, S. Mrug, M. F. Peskin, S. L. Davies, E. T. Schink, M. A. Schuster. Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade. PEDIATRICS, 2014; 133 (3)
Ryu Takizawa, Barbara Maughan, Louise Arseneault. Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From a Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2014
D. Wolke, S. T. Lereya. Bullying and Parasomnias: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. PEDIATRICS, 2014: 2014-1295