*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
New research finds that college students report the psychological impact of childhood bullying is on the same level as severe physical or sexual abuse.
The study of 480 college freshmen through seniors, indicated that the detrimental effects of bullying may linger for years. The emotional impact of the bullying can negatively affect a victims’ mental health well into young adulthood.
While most of the investigation on bullying has focused on kindergarten through 12th-grade students, the struggles revealed by college students who participated in the research suggest a need to develop assessments and interventions for this population, according to the researchers.
Participants in the study were surveyed about their exposure to a variety of traumatic experiences — including bullying, cyberbullying, and crimes such as robbery, sexual assault, and domestic and community violence — from birth through age 17.
Students also reported on their psychological functioning and symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The students who experienced bullying as children reported significantly greater levels of mental health problems than their peers.
Study findings appear online in the journal Social Psychology of Education.
Experiencing bullying was the strongest predictor of PTSD symptoms among the college students who participated in the survey.
Females in particular struggled with the emotional damage inflicted by bullying, reporting significantly greater levels of depression, anxiety, and PTSD than their male peers, according to the study.
Students who experienced one interpersonal trauma were at the greatest risk of being victimized in other ways and of developing PTSD, the data indicated.
The researchers suggested that practitioners in college mental health centers need to be aware that students who request psychological help are likely to have experienced multiple forms of trauma that need to be assessed.