|Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
One very damaging aspect is the response of the people in charge. Bullying victims get doubly traumatized when teachers, administrators, and parents do nothing: This is experienced as a betrayal, an abandonment, or as further abuse--and sometimes, as all three. For example, a boy who was physically assaulted in front of a raft of teachers who did nothing reported it both the assault and the faculty's inaction to the principal. That worthy's response was that this would not have happened had the student not chosen to come out. In actual point of fact the boy had been outed by one of the bullies some months previously in a separate incident, and he had reported it at the time. So the victim gets the message that nobody cares, nobody's going to do anything, and it's his fault anyway. I suspect that, as studies of childhood sexual abuse have demonstrated, this kind of response on the part of adults is a risk factor for some of the more negative outcomes for the child.
Nor, as far as I can tell, are long-term effects limited to childhood experiences: I know one fellow, retired about four years now, who still has regular nightmares about workplace bullying he suffered. And I have worked with several veterans who count abuse by their superiors as among the worst experiences of their careers.
So am I surprised by the results of this study? Not hardly.