A new study indicates that not only does bullying affect a target in the near term, the longer the bullying persists the more of a toll it takes.

The study, called Healthy Passages, tracked Alabama students in fifth, seventh and tenth grade students by reviewing the results of surveys given to over 4,000 children about the amount of bulling they endured and then evaluated their physical and mental health.

It concluded that students who were bullied in the past scored better on the health measurements than those who were currently being bullied. Those who had been bullied throughout their school career scored lowest.

Researchers determined physical health by assessing abilities such as distance a student can walk and the ability to lift heavy objects. Mental health was determined by feelings of sadness, anger and fear.

“I think this is overwhelming support for early interventions and immediate interventions and really advancing the science about interventions,” said Laura Bogart, the lead author of the study.

The study highlights just how critical it is for good physical and mental health to address and end bullying situations for students as early as possible.