Childhood bullying leads to ill health as an adult

The effects of bullying last well into adulthood, according to a study in Psychological Medicine.

The authors used data from the National Child Development Study, which followed more than 17,000 people born in 1958. Parents were asked whether their children had been bullied when they were aged 7 and 11. When these children then reached 45, they were tested for various health markers focusing on obesity and inflammatory processes, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Raised levels of CRP have been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

At age 45, study participants who had experienced bullying victimisation had higher levels of inflammation than their non-bullied peers, and women who had been bullied were more likely to be obese. The findings were independent of the effects of correlated childhood risks (such as parental social class and childhood BMI) and key adult risk factors (such as smoking and diet).

Bullying has previously been shown to have an impact on adult mental health. The authors argue that these findings showing an impact on physical health add impetus to the importance of early intervention to stop bullying activity.

Source: Bullying Victimization in Childhood Predicts Inflammation and Obesity at Mid-life: A Five-decade Birth Cohort Study (2015), Psychological Medicine.

Studying core subjects linked to social mobility

A new article in the British Journal of Sociology of Education looks at how school curriculum content shapes individuals’ chances of social mobility. Using data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), an ongoing longitudinal study of all those born in England, Scotland, and Wales in one week in 1958, the article finds that curriculum differences reproduce social inequalities and affect individuals’ chances of social mobility.

The people followed by the NCDS study attended secondary school at a time when selective and comprehensive schools co-existed in the British school system. The author found that all or most of the advantage associated with attendance at selective schools was accounted for by the curriculum studied there, even taking into account the socio-economic status of the individual when they were born and individual ability.

The article concludes that core subjects such as languages, English, mathematics, and science were important for individuals’ long-term occupational opportunities, although it noted that it was not possible to say whether this was due to their “higher status” or to the skills that pupils studying those subjects developed. The author says that the findings support the need to focus current discussion about effective teaching on curricular content and inclusive methods of teaching this content.

Source: The Role of the School Curriculum in Social Mobility (2013), British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(5).