SCHOOL bullying leaves deep life-changing scars that are still evident after nearly 40 years, a study has shown.

People who suffered bullying as seven and 11-year-olds were disadvantaged physically and psychologically at age 50, researchers found.

Not only were they at greater risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, but had difficulty with social relationships and attained lower educational standards. They also earned less, were more likely to be unemployed, and were in poorer health than those who escaped bullying.

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Fewer bullied individuals were in a relationship or had good social support.

Dr Ryu Takizawa, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said: "The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood."

The findings come from the British National Child Development Study, which includes information on all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958.

Dr Takizawa's team analysed data on 7771 children whose parents provided information on their children's exposure to bullying at ages seven and 11.

Senior author Professor Louise Arseneault, also from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, said: "We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up. Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children."