Childhood Trauma and Bullying: Adulthood Effects

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 5
Words: 1466
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD


Conducting research translates into the engagement in scientific inquiry to identify the underlying issues about a specific problem with the aim of solving it. In this regard, the process of inquiry follows particular systematic steps that seek to attain objectivity, reliability, and validity of the findings. Thus, it is essential for the researcher to identify the problem and define it clearly through a problem statement before communicating the purpose of the study. One would then delve into the issue at hand through a research design that adopts a particular methodology that guides the data collection and analysis aspects of the inquiry to evaluate the problem.

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For this paper, two topics were identified for further research. The first research topic is Can suicide among young adults be linked to childhood bullying?” while the second one is “Can obesity in adulthood be linked to childhood trauma?” Therefore, this paper seeks to provide a problem statement for each topic before deliberating on the purpose of the study research efforts that would then be supported by respective research questions.

Problem Statement 1

The first problem statement for this paper would focus on the issue of suicide among young adults, which is perceived to emanate from the rising cases of bullying. In this respect, the identified cause of the upsurge of suicide reports among young adults is the bullying menace Thus, the question that arises is that “Can suicide among young adults be linked to childhood bullying?” In the recent past, a sequence of bullying-related suicides has rocked the US and other regions around the globe thereby drawing attention to the link between suicide and bullying (Sourander, 2010). Studies have shown that suicide accounts for a third of causes of death among the youth whereby 14% of students in high school have considered it and 7% have attempted suicide due to instances of bullying (Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, & Coulter, 2012). Additionally, victims of bullying are 2 to 9 times more likely to try committing suicide as compared to non-victims (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).

The issue of bullying commonly affects school-aged children and youth. The occurrences of bullying usually thrive in educational settings where peers of varying age groups interact in curricula and extra-curricular activities. The bullied individuals are normally vulnerable due to the influences of peer pressure and a sense of belonging to a particular group (Bauman, Toomey, & Walker, 2013). Additionally, young people experience ridicule and torture due to their physical appearance as in the case of obese individuals thus inducing psychological disequilibrium that could result in suicide (Berlan, Corliss, Field, Goodman, & Austin, 2010).

Since the issue of bullying leads to suicide attempts and in some adverse situations deaths, the alarming rates of mortality among the youth is an issue of crucial consideration. The impacts are disturbing since research findings reveal that bullying accounts for half of the suicide cases reported in Britain regarding the youth (Berlan et al., 2010). Therefore, combatting the problem is essential for reducing the deaths caused by bullying thus improving the life expectancy levels in various regions.

Therefore, the identified underlying cause triggers the need for an inquiry to ascertain its contribution to the cases of suicide among the youth. Particularly, this inquiry envisions the realization of the solutions for increased suicide instances amongst the youth by mitigating the issue of aggressiveness depicted through bullying. Through fostering the curtailment of bullying among the youth would significantly reduce the cases of bullying-related deaths resulting in meaningful relationships.

Purpose of the research effort

The research purposes to attain certain goals that would make it expressive and beneficial to the greatest majority. Importantly, this study seeks to identify the correlation between bullying a suicide among the youth in the US and other regions globally. Furthermore, the inquiry purposes to identify the triggers for bullying among the youth that subsequently results in suicide in adverse situations. Therefore, this research would facilitate solving the problem by focusing on the causes of bullying. Additionally, the research would aim at providing strategic solutions that enhance the mitigation of bullying among the youth to curb bullying-induced suicides. Therefore, the study would focus on the link between bullying and suicide, the identification of the causes for bullying, and the provision of solutions to the bullying-related suicides among the youth.

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Research Questions

The following research questions could be used to guide the research methods applicable to this study.

  • Is there a correlation between bullying and suicide among the youth?
  • Is bullying a key contributor to suicide among the youth?

Problem Statement 2

The issue of obesity in the US has been a public health concern due to the increased number of individuals being affected by the problem. For this reason, various factors have been identified as the triggers for obesity especially based on childhood experiences. In this case, childhood trauma is one of the causes that have been associated with adulthood obesity due to the emotional and psychological imbalance instigated by stressful events (Johnson, Cohen, Kasen, & Brook, 2014). For this reason, the question “Can obesity in adulthood be linked to childhood trauma?” surfaces. Therefore, there is a need to investigate the link between traumatic experiences in childhood and adulthood obesity.

Scientific inferences suggest that subjection to toxic childhood experiences is associated with adulthood obesity. Specifically, child abuse has been pointed out to heighten the risk of obesity development in adulthood (Juonala et al., 2011). In this case, difficult life events experienced early in life have the potential of leaving traces that could manifest later in adulthood especially in the form of a medical condition. In particular, the core mechanisms associated with traumatic events include negative emotions and thought patterns, stress, poor mental health, dropped immune metabolism and function and increased inflammation (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 2012).

The effects of the mechanisms manifest later in life in the form of disorders like obesity. Individuals subjected to childhood abuse have a 34% higher risk of obesity in adulthood as compared to their counterparts who did not experience traumatic events in their childhood. Experiences of physical abuse at childhood hike the chances of obesity by 28% while sexual abuse accounts for 31%. Moreover, cases of emotional abuse in childhood amplify the risks of adulthood obesity by 36% whereas situations of general abuse account for 45% of the obesity disorder later in life (Laviola & Macrì, 2013). Studies show that severe traumatic experiences account for 50% of adulthood obesity as compared to 13% of cases emerging from moderate childhood abuse (Laviola & Macrì, 2013).

In this case, the affected individuals are adults who went through traumatic experiences in their childhood years. Since the experiences mostly occur in the household setting, its effects are felt in other settings including educational and occupational environments (Moreno, Pigeot, & Ahrens, 2011). Therefore, painful experiences at the household level including neglect, abuse, parental alcoholism, dysfunctional family relationships and patterns, and other childhood stresses could have the potential of a critical health issue like adulthood obesity.

The consequences of adulthood obesity are detrimental, and thus they require timely intervention to prevent further dire effects of the sensitive health issue. The effects of obesity are usually manifested in the individuals’ physical and psychological health that could transcend the economic and societal aspects. On physical health matters, obesity causes coronary heart diseases, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, fertility problems, and some cancers among other complications (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 2012). Furthermore, the psychological effects manifest in the form of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low quality of life, and body dissatisfaction. Moreover, the obesity health issue among adults has social impacts that are depicted by lower education engagement, fewer friends, lower employment, and instances of prejudice and discrimination (Laviola & Macrì, 2013).

In this regard, the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles that cultivate the development of obesity in adulthood due to trauma in the childhood phase could be considered as the key issues that lead to obesity (Moreno et al., 2011). For instance, unhealthy dietary habits could act as coping mechanisms among the children affected by traumatic events that could result in obesity in adulthood. Therefore, identifying the solutions to the trauma issue would facilitate the mitigation of the obesity problem that manifests in adulthood.

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Purpose of the research effort

This research is geared towards the identification of the association between adulthood obesity and childhood trauma. Additionally, this study purposes to pinpoint the issues that cause childhood trauma, which later leads to obesity in adulthood. Furthermore, the inquiry would provide solutions to adulthood obesity to reduce the effects that the problem poses to the social and economic aspects.

Research Questions

The research design would consider the following research questions that would assist in guiding the course of the inquiry.

  • Does childhood trauma contribute to adulthood obesity?
  • Is childhood trauma the major cause of obesity among adults?


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Berlan, E. D., Corliss, H. L., Field, A. E., Goodman, E., & Austin, S. B. (2010). Sexual orientation and bullying among adolescents in the growing up today study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(4), 366-371.

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2010). Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Archives of suicide research, 14(3), 206-221.

Johnson, J. G., Cohen, P., Kasen, S., & Brook, J. S. (2014). Childhood adversities associated with risk for eating disorders or weight problems during adolescence or early adulthood. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(3), 394-400.

Juonala, M., Juhola, J., Magnussen, C. G., Würtz, P., Viikari, J. S., Thomson, R.,…& Raitakari, O. T. (2011). Childhood environmental and genetic predictors of adulthood obesity: the cardiovascular risk in young Finns study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(9), 1542-49.

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Karr-Morse, R., & Wiley, M. S. (2012). Scared sick: The role of childhood trauma in adult disease. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Laviola, G., & Macrì, S. (2013). Adaptive and maladaptive aspects of developmental stress. Heidelberg, Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.

Moreno, L. A., Pigeot, I., & Ahrens, W. (2011). Epidemiology of obesity in children and adolescents. Prevalence and etiology. New York, NY: Springer.

Schneider, S. K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., & Coulter, R. W. (2012). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health, 102(1), 171-177.

Sourander, A. (2010). The association of suicide and bullying in childhood to young adulthood: a review of cross-sectional and longitudinal research findings. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 55(5), 282.