11 August 1999

Bullies as victims?

by Kate Melville

Two new research projects seem to indicate that it is not only the victims of bullies who need help. A recent edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published two studies into the psychiatric effects of bullying and both found that children who are bullied and those who do the bullying need help.

Roberto Forero in Australia and Professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino in Finland undertook the studies. The Australian study found more than one in ten schoolchildren aged 11-15 years studied were bullied, but that almost a quarter admitted to bullying others. It also found that children who were both bullied themselves but also bullied others had the greatest number of psychological and psychosomatic problems. The Finish study found that adolescents who were being bullied and those who also bullied are at an increased risk of depression and suicide.

The reports stress that the need for psychiatric intervention should be considered not only for the victims of bullying but also for the bullies. Both papers conclude that bullying affects the psychosocial and psychosomatic health of children and that both the bullied and the bullies deserve attention.