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      Annual Research Review: The persistent and pervasive impact of being bullied in childhood and adolescence: implications for policy and practice


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          We have known for some time that being bullied was associated with children’s and adolescents’ adjustment difficulties and well-being. In recent years, we have come to recognise that the impact of childhood bullying victimisation on the development of mental health problems is more complex. This paper aims to review the evidence for an independent contribution of childhood bullying victimisation to the development of poor outcomes throughout the life span, including mental, physical and socioeconomic outcomes, and discuss the implications for policy and practice.


          Existing research indicates that (a) being bullied in childhood is associated with distress and symptoms of mental health problems. This large body of evidence supports actions aimed at reducing the occurrence of bullying behaviours; (b) the consequences of childhood bullying victimisation can persist up to midlife and, in addition to mental health, can impact physical and socioeconomic outcomes. These new findings indicate that interventions should also focus on supporting victims of bullying and helping them build resilience; (c) research has identified some factors that predispose children to be targeted by bullying behaviours. These studies suggest that public health interventions could aim at preventing children from becoming the target of bullying behaviours from an early age.


          It is a truism to emphasise that further work is needed to understand why and how young people’s aspirations are often cut short by this all too common adverse social experience. In parallel, we must develop effective strategies to tackle this form of abuse and its consequences for the victims. Addressing bullying in childhood could not only reduce children’s and adolescents’ mental health symptoms but also prevent psychiatric and socioeconomic difficulties up to adulthood and reduce considerable costs for society.

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          Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils.

          Cyberbullying describes bullying using mobile phones and the internet. Most previous studies have focused on the prevalence of text message and email bullying. Two surveys with pupils aged 11-16 years: (1) 92 pupils from 14 schools, supplemented by focus groups; (2) 533 pupils from 5 schools, to assess the generalisability of findings from the first study, and investigate relationships of cyberbullying to general internet use. Both studies differentiated cyberbullying inside and outside of school, and 7 media of cyberbullying. Both studies found cyberbullying less frequent than traditional bullying, but appreciable, and reported more outside of school than inside. Phone call and text message bullying were most prevalent, with instant messaging bullying in the second study; their impact was perceived as comparable to traditional bullying. Mobile phone/video clip bullying, while rarer, was perceived to have more negative impact. Age and gender differences varied between the two studies. Study 1 found that most cyberbullying was done by one or a few students, usually from the same year group. It often just lasted about a week, but sometimes much longer. The second study found that being a cybervictim, but not a cyberbully, correlated with internet use; many cybervictims were traditional 'bully-victims'. Pupils recommended blocking/avoiding messages, and telling someone, as the best coping strategies; but many cybervictims had told nobody about it. Cyberbullying is an important new kind of bullying, with some different characteristics from traditional bullying. Much happens outside school. Implications for research and practical action are discussed.
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            Bullying Behaviors Among US Youth

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              Essential role of BDNF in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway in social defeat stress.

              Mice experiencing repeated aggression develop a long-lasting aversion to social contact, which can be normalized by chronic, but not acute, administration of antidepressant. Using viral-mediated, mesolimbic dopamine pathway-specific knockdown of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), we showed that BDNF is required for the development of this experience-dependent social aversion. Gene profiling in the nucleus accumbens indicates that local knockdown of BDNF obliterates most of the effects of repeated aggression on gene expression within this circuit, with similar effects being produced by chronic treatment with antidepressant. These results establish an essential role for BDNF in mediating long-term neural and behavioral plasticity in response to aversive social experiences.

                Author and article information

                J Child Psychol Psychiatry
                J Child Psychol Psychiatry
                Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines
                1 April 2018
                14 November 2017
                30 May 2019
                : 59
                : 4
                : 405-421
                Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College of London, London, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Louise Arseneault, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, Box Number P080, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK; louise.arseneault@ 123456kcl.ac.uk

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                bullying victimisation,mental health,physical health,socioeconomic outcomes,development,children,adolescents,life course


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