Kids who are picked on by their peers may see lasting effects on their physical and mental well-being -- especially if the bullying is allowed to persist for years, a new study suggests.
The study found that kids who are chronically bullied seem to fare the worst: Those continually picked on from fifth grade to 10th grade had the lowest scores on measures of physical and emotional health.
Kids who were bullied at a younger age but saw the problem fade tended to do better. But they were still worse off than their peers who'd never been victimized.
"I think the message is straightforward," said study lead author Laura Bogart, a scientific researcher at Boston Children's Hospital. "The effects of bullying compound over time, and it's important to catch it early."
The findings are based on nearly 4,300 children from three U.S. cities who were surveyed in fifth, seventh and 10th grades -- or roughly the ages of 10, 12 and 15. Overall, 30 percent said they were being regularly bullied on at least one survey. That meant they were being physically pushed around, or teased, at least once a week.
Researchers found that kids who were bullied had more depression symptoms and lower self-esteem.
The study was published online in Pediatrics.