This week’s Boston Globe article, “Inside the Bullied Brain” is riveting. Although many people don’t consider bullying dangerous and are of the opinion that it’s actually a normal part of childhood or a “right of passage,” this article comes to a completely different conclusion:

A new wave of research into bullying’s effects, however, is now suggesting something more than that — that in fact, bullying can leave an indelible imprint on a teen’s brain at a time when it is still growing and developing. Being ostracized by one’s peers, it seems, can throw adolescent hormones even further out of whack, lead to reduced connectivity in the brain, and even sabotage the growth of new neurons.

Read it. Really.

Studies researching the long term effects of peer to peer abuse suggest that the brain may actually become altered and the side effects range from depression to memory loss.

It’s so sad but not shocking. It’s obvious that when a child or teen is consistently mistreated, eventually their outward personality often changes. Those are the things we can see. What about all the things going on in a child’s brain that we can’t see? Children can function but they may be suffering. What IS shocking is that we continue to let it happen.

Early prevention should be a priority. If we catch kids at young ages, we may be able to prevent some brain damage. Sound dramatic? Not when you have studies like these to back you up.