Nearly 100,000 children are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of severe bullying and violence, researchers have warned. The Telegraph reports.
The first comprehensive study of the issue in Britain found 7.8 per cent of people under the age of 18 are living with the condition more commonly associated with veteran soldiers.
Its authors warned of a hidden epidemic whereby children suffering from nightmares, irritability and concentration problems are going undiagnosed and untreated.
Published in the Lancet, the study should increase awareness of PTSD among parents and teachers, the team at King’s College London said.
They drew on a cohort of 2,232 twins born in 1994 and 1995 who were given a full psychiatric interview at the age of 18, following four previous assessments between the ages of 5 and 12.
Just over three in 10 children were found to have experienced some kind of trauma during their childhood. The most common type was so-called “network” trauma, where a child find out about a traumatic event suffered by someone they know.
However, among those who went on to develop PTSD – 57 per cent – the most common reason was direct personal experience, or the treat of experiencing, assault, injury or sexual violation.
This included bullying in school.
Professor Andrea Danese, who led the research, said: “Our findings should serve as a wake-up call – childhood trauma is a public health concern yet trauma-related disorders often go unnoticed. Young people with PTSD are falling through the gaps in care and there is a pressing need for better access to mental health services.”
The new study revealed that half of young people with PTSD had self-harmed, while one in five had attempted suicide since the age of 12.
Dr Stephanie Lewis, who co-authored the study, said: “Young people who have been exposed to trauma often have complex problems, which become increasingly difficult to assess and treat.
“We encourage parents and carers to seek support from health professionals if their children are exposed to trauma and are suffering from distressing psychological symptoms.”
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