Besides the immediate physical and emotional distress that child victims of bullying face, researchers state that a genetic variation could cause the development of emotional problems later on.
Not all children who are bullied go on to develop such problems.
In the study conducted by Dr. Sugden and colleagues from Duke University and Kings College London, results showed that genetic differences in the 5-HTTLPR genes interact with bullying victimization to exacerbate emotional problems.
Second, the gene and environment interaction was strongest for frequently bullied children.
In the article, Sudgen and colleagues state, "This genetic moderation persists after controlling for children's pre-victimization emotional problems and for other risk factors shared by children growing up within the same family environment."
The study is reported in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).