It has long been acknowledged that bullying at a young age presents a problem for schools, parents and public policy-makers alike.

Though children spend more time with their peers than their parents, there is relatively little work done on understanding the impact of these interactions on their life beyond school.

The results of this research, published in Psychological Science, highlight the extent of which the risk of health, wealth and social problems is heightened by exposure to bullying; and in doing so is the first study to look into the effects beyond just health.

Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick and William E Copeland of Duke University Medical Center led the team that looked beyond the study of victims and investigated the impact on all those affected -- the victims, the bullies themselves, and those who fall into both categories i.e. 'bully-victims'.

Wolke said, "We cannot continue to dismiss bullying as a harmless, almost inevitable, part of growing up. We need to change this mindset and acknowledge this as a serious problem for both the individual and the country as a whole; the effects are long-lasting and significant."

The 'bully-victims' presented the most significant health risk for adulthood, being over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly or develop a psychiatric disorder.


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