Claims that depression and anxiety caused by bullying at a young age tend to disappear after five years have been condemned as fake by adults who experienced bullying in childhood.
The study by Dr Jean-Baptiste Pingault of the Department of Psychology, University College London, has caused distress and outrage among former victims and anti-bullying charities.
Many adults who experienced bullying in childhood criticised the results of the study.
“I think this study is fake” said Martha, 23. She recalls how she used to be bullied at school because of her body image.
“I still suffer from all that [bullying] I had in my childhood. It has affected my love relationships and even some aspects of my relationships with friends as I’m always comparing myself to other people all the time.”
Vincenzo Vedere, 24, founder and President of the Association Against School Bullying, has strongly criticised the results of the study published in the mental health journal JAMA Psychiatry.
“I get contacted every day by adults who suffered bullying even 30 years ago and are still living with the consequences of it” said Mr Vetere. “So many survivors are afraid of other people’s judgement and have very low self esteem.”
A former bullying victim himself, Mr Vetere founded the association after graduating from secondary school. Moved by the goal of eradicating social exclusion starting from a local level, he has been working with schools and pupils for the past four years.
Different studies in the field, such as Syracuse University’s research by Dr Ellen deLara, suggested that bullying survivors might suffer from debilitating symptoms similar to post traumatic stress in adulthood.