Bullies need as much help as their victims

August 06, 1999

(Bullying behaviour and psychosocial health among school students in New South Wales, Australia: cross sectional survey)

(Bullying, depression and suicidal ideation in Finnish adolescents: school survey)

Two studies in this week's BMJ report on the psychiatric effects of bullying and both find that children who are bullied and those who do the bullying are in need of help. Roberto Forero and colleagues from New South Wales found that more than one in ten (12.7 per cent) of the 3,918 schoolchildren aged 11-15 years that they studied were bullied, but that almost a quarter (23.7 per cent) admitted to bullying others.

Forero et al found that children who were both bullied themselves but also bullied others had the greatest number of psychological and psychosomatic problems. In a separate study, Professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino and colleagues from Finland found that adolescents who were being bullied and those who also bullied are at an increased risk of depression and suicide. They stress that the need for psychiatric intervention should be considered not only for the victims of bullying but also for the bullies.

Bullies are often as depressed as those who are bullied and thoughts of suicide among this group are even more common, say Kaltiala-Heino et al. Both papers conclude that bullying affects the psychosocial and psychosomatic health of children and that both the bullied and the bullies deserve attention.
-end-
Contact:

Dr Chris Rissel, Epidemiologist, Needs Assessment and Health Outcomes Unit, Central Sydney Area Health Service, Newtown, New South Wales criss@nah.rpa.cs.nsw.gov.au

Professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, Senior Assistant Professor, University of Tampere School of Public Health, Tampere, Finland merihe@uta.fi

BMJ

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