Bullied Teens Twice as Likely to Experience Adult Depression

Kids bullied in their early teens may suffer serious consequences later in life. 


Bullying is bad news. You know it, your teen knows it, and probably so does your pet fish. But where we’re all mistaken in our perception of this topic is the belief that it’s a once-and-done deal — something that stinks during school, but then becomes an obstacle that victims eventually overcome and outgrow. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, according to a recently published long-term study of adolescents in Britain. Scientists found a causal link between early teen bullying and early adult depression

Researchers asked a pool of 13-year-olds (an age “when the influence of peers becomes paramount,” says University of Oxford psychologist Lucy Bowes, who led the study) whether they were ever victim to physical violence, exclusion, threats, or rumors. Five years later, when those same teens were 18, they were surveyed about symptoms of clinical depression.

The results aren’t pretty, Bowes explains:

“We found that kids who reported that they were frequently bullied at 13 were twice as likely to report being clinically depressed at 18.”

And that’s not the only scary finding that Bowes and her team uncovered. Further surveying of 3,700 families revealed that 1,199 teens said that they were bullying victims, while only 229 parents said that their kids were bullying victims. The disconnect isn’t hard to see. Essentially, teens aren’t sharing and parents aren’t asking — both unknowingly increasing the teen’s chances of suffering from depression later in life.

Want to close the communication gap and help make life more enjoyable for your teen? Consider these steps:

- Check out these tips about how to talk to your child about bullying and how to prevent it

- Then, learn how to discern between bullying and drama to determine whether you should further intervene. 

- If you sense bullying has already taken a hefty toll on your teen, head to ifred.org, an organization that hopes to shine some light on depression and take a look at these teens’ stories of refusing to keep their pain a secret. 

Have other advice for fellow parents regarding bullied teens? Please share by tweeting us at @Choices_Mag.