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Scars of Bullying Linger

Victims, especially girls, may suffer emotional problems later on, study says

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Children -- especially girls -- are more likely to have psychiatric problems later in life if they're bullied or victimized, a new Finnish study finds.

The study may be the first of its kind to examine what happens to bullied children of both genders years later.

Researchers at Turku University Hospital tried to find links between bullying and victimization at age 8 and later psychiatric problems between ages 13 and 24. The study examined more than 5,000 Finnish children who took part in a national survey.

The study found that about 6 percent of boys were frequent bullies and 6 percent were frequent victims; 3 percent fit into both categories.

Among girls, almost 4 percent were frequent victims, and less than 1 percent were frequent bullies or both.

"Frequent victim status at age 8 years among females independently predicted psychiatric hospital treatment" and use of psychiatric drugs, the authors write. The relationship is more complex among boys.

"It is important to inform policymakers, school professionals and the public about the potential short-term and long-term consequences of bullying and victimization," the researchers write.

The study appears in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

To learn more about bullying, see the Nemours Foundation.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, news release, Sept. 7, 2009

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