Bullying Can Make Teens Susceptible to Eating Disorders
There are many possible reasons that some young people develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Often teens, and young adults, put a lot of pressure on themselves to look a certain way. Others might develop these illnesses as a result of pressure exerted from outside sources, such as their peers.
According to a new study from the eating disorder charity, Beat, bullying is becoming an increasingly significant cause of eating disorders among young people. During National Anti-Bullying Week (which took place from November 19th to 23rd), the organisation conducted a survey which found that 78 percent of sufferers acknowledge that being bullied had led to their eating disorders.
This was a significant increase compared to 46 percent in a 2010 survey conducted by the charity. Worryingly, 40 percent of the respondents to the 2012 study said that they were younger than ten when the bullying started and a huge 90 percent admitted to having being bullied "at some time in their life".
Susan Ringwood, Beat's chief executive, attributed this in part to the fact when young people are bullied, it affects their self esteem. Having a negative sense of self-worth then makes them more vulnerable to eating disorders.
"We know that low self esteem can lead to eating disorders, and bullying of any kind lowers self esteem. Any increase in bullying is very worrying, especially when such young people are involved. We know how important it is for young people's concerns about bullying to be taken seriously and sorted out quickly. Schools need to make sure their anti-bullying policies are effective and used - and not just a dusty document on a shelf," she commented.
Shana, a respondent who shared her personal experiences as part of the study, discussed how she was victimized by bullies at the private school she attended. She described how some class members started a hate group about her, which referred to her as "a whale and a bus", and how she stopped eating and developed an eating disorder as a result.Continued on the next page