We’ve all heard about the long term effects like depression and anxiety that victims of bullies can suffer well into adulthood. But what we haven’t heard is what kind of effect bullying has on the bully. A new study that looks at the social outcomes of kids that were known for bullying their peers shows some interesting findings that may surprise you.
National Geographic reports about the Duke University study that takes a look at what they call “pure bullies”. These are the kids who tend to bully others but are never the victim of bullying themselves. Researchers involved in the study followed the outcome of children from age 9 to 21.
By studying the participant’s CRP levels (a biomarker of chronic inflammation that's been linked to cardiovascular risk and a sign of stress in the body) researchers found those who had been bullied had the highest levels as they got older. But bullies seemed to somehow benefit from their social status by reducing their CRP levels.
Lead author William Copeland explains, “There seems to be a protective effect for the bullies because of this enhanced social status, or their success that comes along with being a good bully.” Lower stress levels may be a long term benefit for bullies, but researchers warn that other risk factors like a greater likelihood of joining a gang or carrying a weapon also come with the bullying lifestyle. There may be other healthier ways for teens to enjoy the same type of social status and gain confidence like joining a competitive sports team.
What do you think of the new study that finds bullies may benefit from lower stress levels as adults?
Do you think kids who take part in competitive sports and games can benefit the same way bullies are from lower stress levels as adults?