(HealthDay News) — Chronic bullying, especially that experienced in both the past and present, is associated with considerably worse psychological and physical health, according to research published online February 17 in Pediatrics.

Laura M. Bogart, PhD, from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues used data from 4,297 children surveyed in fifth, seventh, and tenth grades in three cities. The authors sought to examine longitudinal correlations of bullying with mental and physical health from elementary to high school.

The researchers found that, over time, bullying correlated with worse mental and physical health, greater symptoms of depression, and lower self-worth. Children with both past and present bullying experiences had significantly worse health, followed by those with present-only experiences, past-only experiences, and no experiences. For example, 44.6, 30.7, 12.1, and 6.5% of children bullied in the past and present, the present only (P=0.005), the past only (P<0.001), and not bullied (P<0.001), respectively, were at the lowest decile of psychosocial health.

“Both chronic and current bullying are associated with substantially worse health,” the authors write. “Clinicians who recognize bullying when it first starts could intervene to reverse the downward health trajectory experienced by youth who are repeated targets.”

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