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Trauma & Children

TLC GUEST BLOGGER: Barb Dorrington, MEd

We all have heard about the impact of bullying and connections to low self-esteem, anger, depression, hostility, and drug and alcohol use. In simple terms, research is mounting that words cause more than emotional harm. They cause damage to our brains. Bullying, like many traumatizing situations, creates a stressful environment leading to an overproduction of cortisol. Too much cortisol damages brain structures, especially learning and memory. The stress of being bullied leads to reactions from anger and a desire to retaliate to withdrawal, with some young people eventually taking their own lives.

According to Vaillancourt, an Ottawa, Canada researcher, a chronic overproduction of cortisol can eventually damage brain receptor sites and lead to an underproduction of cortisol. Low cortisol levels are associated with aggression, and high cortisol levels are associated with feelings of shame.

Martin Teicher, an American neuroscientist, has studied young adults with…

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