In a longitudinal study that followed 1,420 children up to nine times, researchers found victims of bullying had increased C-reactive protein levels in adulthood, whereas bullying others predicted lower increases in C-reactive protein compared with children uninvolved in bullying.
Children in the Great Smoky Mountains Study were recruited at age 9, 11 and 13 years from 11 counties in North Carolina.
Assessments included finger pricks to test for C-reactive protein levels, and psychiatric interviews between ages 9 and 16 years to determine bullying involvement as part of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA).
In contrast to bully–victims, the bullies themselves “experience few downsides and reap biological advantages of increased social status,” the researchers wrote. “Social status and disruptions to one’s status may play a central role in physical health functioning through effects on chronic low-grade inflammation, and these effects may persist for decades.”
Disclosure: This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Economic and Social Research Council in the United Kingdom.