Bullying and Depression

A new study from researchers at the University of Delaware shows links between victimization and depression, and subsequent smoking and alcohol abuse.

The study involved 4,297 students from Birmingham, Houston and Los Angeles, following their journeys from 5th through 10th grade.

The findings: Children who were bullied in 5th grade are more likely to show symptoms of depression in 7th grade and to be users of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana by 10th grade. It seems to be a simple and direct causal relationship, and shows that victimization as a child has lasting impact.

My read of the article is that while bullying has to stop, victims need help. Victims may be reluctant to identify themselves. Parents and caregivers need to practice active surveillance, and not assume that all is well. Assumptions can kill.


  1. Valerie A. Earnshaw, Marc N. Elliott, Sari L. Reisner, Sylvie Mrug, Michael Windle, Susan Tortolero Emery, Melissa F. Peskin, Mark A. Schuster. Peer Victimization, Depressive Symptoms, and Substance Use: A Longitudinal Analysis. Pediatrics, 2017
  2. University of Delaware. “Bullying’s lasting impact: Peer victimization in fifth grade increases health risks a few years after the incidents.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170508144650.htm>





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