Effects of Bullying


Effects of Bullying

by Chinyere Nwosu


People do not recognize bullying. It is a fact that its effects can be as severe as death. If you want to refresh your mind on the meaning of bullying and why people bully, see What Is Bullying?


Bullying generates trauma in the bullied, the bully, and bystanders. The traumatic experience may be immediate or may arise later. People who experience bullying are at high risk of experiencing physical and emotional disorders later in life (Vanderbilt and Augustyn, 2010). Bullying may also lead to poor mental health, substance abuse, and suicide.


Bullying is found in every society – modern or ancient. Many assume that bullying is a conduct disorder. According to Wolke and Lereya (2015), bullying is “considered an evolutionary adaptation.” It aims to gain high status, dominance, access to resources, survival, reduce stress, and enhance mating opportunities. Therefore, it is evident why bullies employ aggressive behaviours to promote and maintain their position. Studies show that bullying may have some significant impacts on human life. The victims, perpetrators, and bystanders alike. Some aspects identified include –

–         Health

–         Tendencies for self-harm and suicide

–         Social relationships

–         Schooling

–         Employment


The table below summarizes some of the problems that may arise due to bullying. Investigations studied monozygotic twins whose only difference was in their experiences of bullying.


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Effects of Bullying

Health Somatic problems such as colds

Psychosomatic problems such as sleeping problems, headaches

Body pains, slow recovery from illnesses

Anxiety disorder, depression, and depression disorder

Borderline personality symptoms and psychotic experiences (seen in people who experienced bullying in primary school)

Social relationships Smoking, internalizing problems,

Dating violence (mainly seen in bullies), dating withdrawal (seen in the bully-victims)

Poor financial management

Trouble making and keeping friends

Poor relationship with parents

Low social support

Less likely to live with a partner

Trouble honouring financial obligations

Become a young parent (more likely in bully-victims)

Violence, property, and traffic offences (mainly in bullies)

Delinquency, aggressiveness, impulsivity, and psychopathy (mainly in bullies)

Self-harm High risk for the bullied

Suicide attempts

Schooling Poor academic functioning

Lower educational qualification than peers

Employment Earn less than their peers

Trouble keeping jobs




Effects may vary in individuals

The extent of the harm done by bullying may vary from one individual to another. The evidence may also change over time. How these effects manifest in people can also vary depending on their roles – bully, bullied, or bystander.

Research has also shown that a small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. An instance was related to school shootings in the 1990s. (stopbullying.gov).

It is also important to mention that bystanders are not free of trauma generated by bullying. One of the causes of trauma is witnessing violent acts. Bystanders observe bullying, and the pain may cause them to respond in unhealthy ways like abuse of drugs. They may also show social impairments and tend to skip school or work. Bystanders can also develop health problems like depression and anxiety from witnessing bullying.


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