The Effects Of Bullying

Lifetime Impact: Often the effects of bullying can last long after the bullying stops. Some who are

We tend to associate bullying with childhood. Therefore, many assume bullying is just a phase some kids go through, whether they are the bullied or the bulllies: Eventually, they'll pass through it, then get on with their lives.

Actually, the effects of bullying can last a lifetime—not just on those who are bullied, but those who do the bullying and even those who just witness bullying.

Kids Who Are Bullied

Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

• Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.

• Health complaints

• Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.

A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

Kids Who Bully Others

Kids who bully others are unlikely to outgrow their behavior unless it's corrected while they're still young. Their tendency to be violent is probably going to carry over into adulthood. Other issues include:

• Abusing alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults

• Getting into fights, vandalizing property, and dropping out of school

• Engaging in early sexual activity

• Having criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults 

• Being abusive as adults toward their romantic partners, spouses or children

Kids Who Witness Bullying

Kids need not be directly involved in bullying. Just seeing it can adversely impact their lives. Bystanders who witness bullying are more likely to:

• Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs

• Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety

• Miss or skip school

stopbullyinggov website Opens in new windowInformation from a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

The Relationship Between Bullying & Suicide

Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.

Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. 

Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.