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Social form of bullying linked to depression, anxiety in adults
Date:4/22/2008

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Spreading rumors and gossiping may not cause bruises or black eyes, but the psychological consequences of this social type of bullying could linger into early adulthood, a new University of Florida study shows.

In a study of 210 college students, UF researchers discovered a link between what psychologists call relational victimization in adolescence and depression and anxiety in early adulthood, according to findings published online this month in the journal Psychology in the Schools. Rather than threatening a child with physical violence, these bullies target a childs social status and relationships by shunning them, excluding them from social activities or spreading rumors, said Allison Dempsey, a doctoral student in the UF College of Education and the studys lead author.

Even though people are outside of high school, the memories of these experiences continue to be associated with depression and social anxiety, said Dempsey, who graduated from Columbine High School in Colorado one year before the 1999 school shooting there and now studies school prevention programs. It was interesting to see these relationships still continue to exist even though they are in early adulthood now and in a completely different setting.

Im hoping this study will help shed light on the fact that this is a real problem and continues to be a real problem after students leave school.

To uncover the relationships between social bullying and loneliness, depression and anxiety, researchers surveyed college undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 25 and asked them to recall their experiences from high school. They were also looking to see if having friends mitigated some of the effects of bullying and if there was any relationship between gender and the severity of psychological symptoms, said Eric Storch, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry in the UF College of Medicine and a co-author of the study.

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Contact: April Frawley Birdwell
afrawley@ufl.edu
352-273-5817
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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