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Good Housekeeping
May 09, 2012

Kids Who Have Been Bullied May Be More Prone to Self-Abuse

Research shows victims of bullying are more likely to hurt themselves when they get upset.
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Children who have been bullied have a tendency to develop self-destructive behavior, says a study published in the British Medical Journal. According to researchers from the King’s College in London, the chances of these kids inflicting harm upon themselves are three times higher than those who haven’t been bullied. 

Studying more than 1,000 sets of twins aged 5, 7, 10, and 12 born between 1994 and 1995, researchers tried to find a connection between bullying and self-destructive tendencies. They learned that 237 out of 2141 kids had been bullied six months before their 12th birthday. Eight percent of these kids reportedly harmed themselves. In contrast, of the 1904 children who were not bullied, 2 percent turned to self-abuse. 

While not all bullied children turn to self-harm, parents are advised to watch for certain factors that may lead to self-destructive behavior. If there is a family history of self-abuse, difficult behavior in childhood, or signs of emotional distress, then there is a higher possibility that the children in question may turn to self-abuse.

Based on research, self-abuse may be characterized by actions like pulling their own hair, biting or cutting their arms, and strangling themselves, among others. These bouts of frustration are not to be taken lightly. If you should see your kids banging their heads against the wall, for example, don’t dismiss it as a phase they'll grow out of. Talk to them about their problems. Sometimes, all kids need is someone who will listen. If your child continues to exhibit self-destructive behavior, you can and should seek professional help.

 

(Photo by Duchesssa / Gabriella Fabbri via sxc.hu)

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