Bullying is bad for kids, right? Well, yes, unless you are the bully — then you may actually reap health benefits.
You probably know that being bullied has negative effects on the victims. Stress, anxiety and depression are often reported, in addition to a host of physical ailments that can result from being bullied. However, a new study has revealed that if you are the bully, you may actually reap health benefits. How messed up is that?
Inflammation levels and bullying
Researchers studied over 1,400 people and explored their data collected over a 20-year timespan. They checked each participant’s C-reactive protein (CRP) levels at certain times of their lives. Increased levels of CRP can indicate inflammation in the body, and can also indicate infection or long-standing health issues. A certain type of CRP test can even give doctors clues about potentially life-threatening heart problems, such as heart attacks.
Being bullied harms a kid’s health. The participants’ CRP levels were measured when they were between ages 9 and 16, and again when they were young adults between ages 19 and 21. They discovered that those who experienced bullying when they were children had higher levels of CRP on average than those who bullied other children, or who were both bullies and victims.
Bullying is good for the bully
Former bullies had lower levels of CRP than their bullied peers, illustrating that manipulating, tormenting and tearing down your peers not only makes you feel better in the moment, it can lead to a lifetime of better health. Not only do former bullies have a lower level of CRP than their victims likely do, they also have a lower CRP level than those who have never been involved in bullying at all.
What does this mean to kids?
What life lessons can we glean from this study? The health benefits that bullies reap don’t outweigh the mental and physical damage they inflict. Parents and teachers must continue a zero-tolerance approach to bullying. Adults must take complaints and reports of bullying seriously. Those who work with children need proper training on identifying and preventing bullying.