School: Childhood Bullying Linked to Teen Psychosis
Posted May 05 2009 5:54pm
Today on my way to work, I was listening The Takeaway aired at NPR. The guest was PhD Dieter Wolke, a professor of developmental psychology and individual differences at the University of Warwick, England.
Scientists reporting in the May issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry (subscription required) say that childhood bullying can lead to teenage psychotic episodes such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
The research led by Wolke, followed 6,437 children from birth to 13 years. The children took part in annual face-to-face interviews, psychological and physical tests. When they reached 13 years of age they were interviewed about experiences of psychotic symptoms in the previous six months.
Professor Wolke has stressed: "This indicates that adverse social relationships with peers is a potent risk factor for developing psychotic symptoms in adolescence and may increase the risk of developing psychosis in adulthood."
Chronic peer victimisation, where bullying had continued over a number of years, was found in 13.7% of children when interviewed at ages 8 and 10. Severe victimisation, where children are both physically and emotionally bullied, was reported by 5.2% of children at age 10.
Professor Wolke also added: "All children have conflicts occasionally and teasing and play fighting occurs. Children learn from these conflicts of how to deal with this. When we talk about bullying victimisation it is repeated, systematic and an abuse of power with the intent to hurt. Children who become targets have less coping skills, show a clear reaction and have few friends who can help them."