Depression, Weapons May Be More Common for Bullied Teens

News Picture: Depression, Weapons May Be More Common for Bullied Teens

MONDAY, April 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Bullied high school students have greater odds for depression and suicidal thoughts than others, and they're also more likely to take weapons to school, according to three new studies.

"Teens can be the victim of face-to-face bullying in school, electronic bullying outside of the classroom and dating violence," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, senior investigator of the studies. Each experience is associated with a range of serious adverse consequences, he added.

Researchers analyzed data from a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of teens in grades 9-12, and found that depression and suicidal thoughts are much more common among teens who have been bullied electronically or at school.

Those risks were highest among teens who experienced both forms of bullying, according to one of the three studies. All are scheduled for presentation Monday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego.

"Although cyberbullying may not pose the same physical threat that face-to-face bullying does, it can be far more hurtful since it can spread like wildfire throughout a student body and take on a life of its own," Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said in a hospital news release.

Another study found that bullying and physical and/or sexual violence on dates were associated with teens carrying weapons to school or not going to school.

Bullying and dating violence are more common than many believe, according to study principal investigator Alexis Tchaconas, a research associate at Cohen Children's Medical Center.

"The CDC reports that 11 percent of high school students experience dating violence, and 20 percent report being bullied," she said in the news release. "Greater prevention efforts are needed to protect the mental health and physical well-being of our teens."

The third study found that among teens who were victims of bullying in the past 12 months, girls were more likely to carry weapons to school than girls who were not victimized. But it's not clear if girls who have been victimized carry weapons for self-defense or revenge.

Principal investigator Tammy Pham, who conducted the research as an intern at Cohen Children's, said it's important to find ways to prevent all types of bullying.

"Students need to feel safe both in and outside of school. More needs to be done to reduce bullying and the huge toll it takes on youth," Pham said in the news release.

The studies only show a link, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship, between bullied teens and developing mental health problems. Also, data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: North Shore/LIJ Health System, news release, April 27, 2015