SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Bullying Can Damage A Child's Brain

When exposed to toxic levels of stress a build up of cortisol it can impact how neuropathways are constructed in a child's brain.

Posted: Feb 13, 2017 1:02 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 8:53 AM

GRANTS PASS, Ore., -- Research shows peer bullying can be as damaging to a child as parental verbal abuse. Dr. Martin Teicher has studied the how a child's brain changes when that child is exposed to verbal abuse. According to his published research chronic verbal abuse, like bullying, can lead to an increased risk of psychiatric symptoms and abnormalities in parts of the brain which are still developing in school aged children. Dr. Teicher's research echos that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC teamed up with Kaiser Permanente nearly 20 years ago. Ultimately the findings of that study, and subsequent studies, allowed researchers, doctors, and child advocates to learn more about how detrimental Adverse Childhood Effects or ACEs can be to a developing brain. The original study, done between 1995 - 1997 "is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being," according to the CDC. Questions asked of more than 17,000 participants showed a relationship between adverse childhood effects and negative consequences in emotional, social, and physical health in adulthood. 

As the CEO at Kairos, Bob Lieberman has spent many hours learning about ACEs and how to prevent and counter the impact on children. According to Lieberman, young children do not have the coping mechanisms to deal with toxic stress. Lieberman explained that there are several kinds of toxic stress children are exposed to such as poverty in the home; physical abuse between parents; physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by a parent to a child, divorce, exposure to addictive behaviors and even chronic bullying at school. When humans are stressed we release a hormone called cortisol. Lieberman says when exposed to toxic levels of stress a build up of cortisol it can impact how neuropathways are constructed in our brains. Since we create more neuropathways during childhood it is easy to see, even on an MRI how the brain is impacted by ACEs. 

Over the last 20 years research has shown the higher the number on an ACEs quiz the higher the risk for negative consequences in your emotional, social, and physical health. The correlation is so strong, Lieberman says, that the CDC has named ACEs as the leading determinant to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The impacts in adulthood all link back to the lack of development and damage done to the brain during childhood. Lieberman cautions that a high ACEs score does not mean a person is destined to get divorced, suffer from depression, or die of heart attack in middle age. He points out there are people who score an 8 out of 10 and still lead productive healthy lives. The key, according to Lieberman is resiliency. Those with a high ACEs score but few negative consequences have almost always had a positive and powerful sense of attachment and belonging. This can come in many forms through the community, cultural experiences, or spiritual beliefs. 

Finding your ACEs score is as easy as taking a ten question quiz. There are no questions about bullying, but Lieberman says it still applies. He explains that the questions have proved to be stand-ins for all kinds of adversity in childhood. The questions fall into three categories: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 65170

Reported Deaths: 820
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah14988210
Washington881596
Marion8321127
Clackamas535376
Umatilla409948
Lane382037
Jackson335623
Malheur230839
Deschutes191114
Yamhill156516
Linn126018
Polk105115
Douglas80415
Jefferson76511
Benton7097
Union6912
Klamath6854
Morrow6197
Lincoln56313
Wasco47218
Josephine4314
Columbia4223
Coos3831
Hood River3611
Clatsop3330
Baker2573
Crook1906
Grant1221
Tillamook1110
Curry1052
Lake980
Harney861
Wallowa702
Sherman230
Gilliam210
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1114524

Reported Deaths: 18726
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3645207438
San Bernardino845311129
Riverside806761400
San Diego71648968
Orange696941554
Kern38316445
Fresno35973471
Sacramento33133546
Santa Clara30676463
Alameda27485499
San Joaquin24649503
Contra Costa22412258
Stanislaus20370416
Tulare19752303
Ventura18040174
Imperial15053353
San Francisco14445158
Monterey13886113
San Mateo13203169
Sonoma11428155
Merced10986176
Santa Barbara10922133
Kings1003886
Solano934980
Marin7518128
Placer577867
Madera571480
San Luis Obispo561835
Yolo419975
Shasta409542
Santa Cruz389827
Butte366459
Napa275717
Sutter263813
El Dorado19304
San Benito174115
Yuba173210
Lassen14803
Tehama143523
Mendocino138522
Nevada10189
Lake83218
Glenn8296
Humboldt7309
Tuolumne7088
Colusa6426
Mono4993
Siskiyou4951
Amador45016
Calaveras43421
Inyo28316
Del Norte2731
Plumas1770
Trinity1130
Modoc1110
Mariposa1042
Alpine420
Sierra170
Unassigned00
Medford
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 44°
Brookings
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 41°
Crater Lake
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 27°
Grants Pass
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Klamath Falls
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 27°
Rain & snow arrive later Tuesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events