Health & Wellbeing

Chronic bullying could be causing parts of teenagers' brains to shrink

Persistent bullying in youngsters could be causing parts of the brain to shrink
Persistent bullying in youngsters could be causing parts of the brain to shrink
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Persistent bullying in youngsters could be causing parts of the brain to shrink
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Persistent bullying in youngsters could be causing parts of the brain to shrink

Persistent bullying could lead to a structural deformation in the brains of teenagers, according to a new study. Bullying is a serious problem for many children and teens that can cause myriad of problems in later life, including long-term impacts on mental health.

Despite the knowledge of its dangers, the biological relationships between bullying and issues in later life such as depression and anxiety are largely unknown.

According to the authors of the new study, their research is the first to suggest that bullying during adolescence can cause social and mental health issues by altering the shape of the brain.

The research involved an analysis of 682 young people from England, France, Ireland and Germany between the ages of 14 – 19. Over the course of the study, participants were given brain scans, and asked to fill out questionnaires detailing the extent of the bullying they received.

Thirty-six of the youngsters reported that they had experienced chronic bullying. The researchers compared the data collected on these extreme cases to that of participants that had endured a less intense level of harassment.

The team discovered that isolated regions in the brains of the severely bullied participants had shrunk significantly. These sections of the brain, known as the putamen and caudate contribute to behavioral processes including reward sensitivity, attention span, and emotional processing.

A degradation to these areas occurring at such a vital formative period in a young person's life, during which their brains physically grow and mature, could explain the heightened levels of anxiety experienced by 19-year-olds who had been heavily bullied.

In light of the findings, the international team of researchers behind the study stresses that every possible step should be taken to stamp out chronic bullying to prevent deviations in brain formation that could lead to mental illness later in life.

The study has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Source: King's College London

7 comments
VincentWolf
I doubt that.. i wad bullied incessantly throughout elementary, junior high and high school and graduated with 3.2 GPA in high school and 3.7 in college for 6 years and 4 degrees.. are you going to say if i wasnt bullied i would have maintained a 4.0 GPA??. I doubt that which spent too much time on sports and learning to play some instruments to ever have gotten a 4.0.. hogwash in my opinion
Wolf0579
One thing is for sure about school bullying. Bullying creates school shooters. Student bodies should be very concerned about how they treat the least regarded of their members.
ljaques
If they came out of their safe rooms and faced life straight on, they'd toughen up and swell that cowering brain right back to where it should be. I was bullied in high school, but I stood up to the guy in front of the class and all bullying stopped. People respect that. Kids today don't face any of the challenges we did 50 years ago, and we didn't face nearly the challenges our parents and grandparents did. The human race is dissolving under the control of the powers that be. Time to stiffen up your upper lip, chaps. It's party time, so how about the Patriarchy and Matriarchy work in tandem, as we used to? Throw off the chains of the would-be rulers. Just Do It.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Students get bullied for being nerds and doing well in school. It is worse because they are often lacking in motor skills and strength. They usually get by by excusing the bullies and moving on. Also, they may not get "hazing" which borders on bullying. It is quite likely that the bullying is lowering their grades because it consumes a lot of energy. They are generally smart enough to work around this.
Gregg Eshelman
Parents must demand that schools take action to stop bullies. they must also demand that NO PUNISHMENT be given to the victims of bullies if they fight back. But for decades in the USA, many schools have done the opposite. they allow bullies to have their reign of terror without anything done to stop them, while their victims get punished for fighting back. I don't care what goes on in the homes of kids doing the bullying, they cannot be allowed to take things out on other kids. If their parents are alcoholics, drug addicts, abuse them, whatever - they need to learn that they can get help for their home problems AND that there's zero tolerance for 'passing on' abuse. 'Course some kids have things great at home and happen to be rotten examples of humanity just because they like being mean.
Robert in Vancouver
Kick bullies out of that school permanently - zero tolerance policy. I had a bully from high school sent out by his union to work on one of my projects. I was the boss making twice as much as him, and he had to follow my orders. I took the high road and didn't bully him but it sure felt good anyway.
Jean Lamb
The movie CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, while mostly a comedy, takes a look at the long-term consequences of bullying (though with a very satisfying resolution which alas rarely happens in real life).