The effects of bullying

Girl wearing flowery top with head in hands

The severity of bullying is often undermined by the following misguided statements:

  • "Bullying is just a normal part of growing up."
  • "It helps children deal with the cruelties of the 'real world'."
  • "It helps sensitive children toughen up."

These opinions are extremely detrimental to the development and safety of children. The effects of bullying can be devastating, as they often continue long into adulthood and drive countless children into depression or self-harm. Some will even attempt or commit suicide.

When left unaccounted for, bullying doesn't just affect the target and the children who are bullying, but everyone who is exposed to the environment in which it occurs - most commonly at school.

Impact on bullied children

Children who are bullied are more likely to:

  • have low self-esteem;
  • develop depression or anxiety;
  • become socially withdrawn, isolated and lonely;
  • have lower academic achievements due to avoiding or becoming disengaged with school;
  • be unable to form trusting, healthy relationships with friends or partners in the future.

Impact on children who bully

Children who frequently bully others are more likely to:

  • drop out of, or be expelled from school;
  • engage in criminal behaviour;
  • develop depression or anxiety;
  • be abusive towards their sexual partners, spouses or children as adults.

Impact on bystanders

Children who witness bullying are more likely to:

  • feel powerless;
  • live in fear and guilt.

Impact on schools

Schools that do not take significant action against bullying are more likely to:

  • create a negative environment based on a culture of fear and disrespect;
  • have poor student engagement, staff retention and parent satisfaction;
  • give students the impression that teachers have little control and do not care;
  • instill insecurity, low self-esteem and lack of ambition in their students;
  • fail in inspiring students to reach their full academic potential.

Related advice

For parents

Supporting a bullied child
My child is bullying others
The signs of bullying

For young people

Don't be a bystander
Dealing with bullying
Have I been involved in bullying?

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