Bullying among adolescents hurts both the victims and the perpetrators, recent study suggests
Victims and their perpetrators both suffer as a result of these attacks. They are more inclined to consume alcohol and tobacco, are more likely to complain of psychosomatic problems and their chances of having problems with their social environment increase, too.
As part of the study, a team of researchers compared data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO researchers had asked approximately 3,000 adolescents from each country about their lives as part of an extensive study conducted over a number of years.
The data included information on any bullying the adolescents had experienced from other students, but also details of alcohol and tobacco consumption, psychosomatic complaints, how easy they found it to talk to their friends and how they viewed the social support of their classmates.
The researchers looked at the responses from adolescents living in Germany, Greece and the USA and were collected during several different survey periods.
The analysis revealed that adolescents' behaviour and problems are similar in all three countries, as approximately nine per cent of boys and girls had repeatedly experienced physical or psychological attacks from other students.
"None of the three countries can be used as a model for dealing with the problem. We were shocked by this stability that transcends cultures and different periods of time," said Anett Wolgast, lead researcher of the study published in the Journal of Children and Youth Services Review.
Another thing the researchers wanted to take a closer look at was the connection between bullying from students and various other factors: Here, they focused on the adolescents' risk behaviour, especially their alcohol and tobacco consumption, and whether they had suffered or were still suffering from psychosomatic complaints, such as stomach aches, headaches, back pain or depression.
The scientists also analysed how perpetrators and victims interacted with their social environment: Did they find it easy to talk to friends? How did they view support from within their class in their social environment?
The results indicate that boys and girls are just as likely as each other to consume alcohol and smoke cigarettes when they have been the victim of verbal or physical attacks. "Girls are slightly more inclined to internalise problems and therefore have more stomach aches or headaches," Wolgast added.
The academics were surprised by the fact that perpetrators and victims both mentioned similar problems with their environments. Both groups found it difficult to talk to friends and classmates and they also both felt they had little support from their environment.
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