Does this explain the kind of thing that went on at Columbine?
A recent study suggests that bullying by peers changes the structure surrounding a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental health problems as they age. Researcher Isabelle Ouellet-Morin says, "Many people think that our genes are immutable; however this study suggests that environment, even the social environment, can affect their functioning. This is particularly the case for victimization experiences in childhood, which change not only our stress response but also the functioning of genes involved in mood regulation."
A previous study showed that bullied children secrete less cortisol--the stress hormone--but had more problems with social interaction and aggressive behavior. The present study indicates that the reduction of cortisol, which occurs around the age of 12, is preceded two years earlier by a change in the structure surrounding a gene that regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and depression.
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