For children and youth who are or have been victimized by bullies, they would usually have serious impacts on their lives and development. Negative health consequences of bullying can generally be classified under four categories, namely:
Drop in grades to poor school attendance
Victims of bullying typically start to lose interest in school work, and may even avoid going to school, for fear of being bullied. They spend an increasing amount of time thinking of ways to evade the trauma, thus, they have lesser energy left for learning. This would in turn cause their academic results to suffer, leading to more pressure and shame.
Loneliness and poor social relationships
Victimization is related to immediate effects such as loneliness, anxiety and a low sense of self-worth too. Besides that, those bullied usually have few friends, and their friendships are often of poor quality.
Physical ill-health symptoms can occur as well such as headaches, mouth-sores etc. Such health problems take place as constant resisting and fearing of the bully taxes the mental and physical defences, causing the body system to break down.
Lowered self-esteem and depression
Bullying victims generally suffer from a lower self-esteem, and a greater susceptibility to depression in the long run as compared to their non-victimized counterparts. Research has shown that there is “a causal link between peer victimization and low levels of well-being”.
Apart from that, there had been several cases of “bullycide”, whereby victims commit suicide because of frequent bullying.
Many victims may choose to suffer in silence, or inflict pain upon themselves.
Revenge leading to violent juvenile behavior
Some victims may strike back in vengeance. The latter may consequently display violent juvenile behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, bullying not only affects the victims, but also the perpetrators – i.e. the bullies.
Aggressive Behaviour in adulthood
Bullies face an increased risk for marital violence, child abuse and sexual harassment. That is because they tend to continue their aggressive behaviour into adulthood. As such, they are also more likely to be incarcerated for criminal activities in future.
|Impaired social abilities and unstable relationships
The aggressive behaviour displayed by bullies can also impair their intellectual skills, thus hindering them from learning pro-social skills. As a result, children who bully others tend to grow up as antisocial adults with unstable relationships.
|Depression and Suicide
Like the victims, bullies are at a higher risk of depression and suicidal ideation. They often get involved in activities that compromise their health too, e.g. smoking, drinking, taking drugs etc.
Besides the victims and the perpetrators, witnesses of bullying are affected as well.
A sense of fear and intimidation can be induced in the bystanders, causing them to feel insecure. Research has proved that there was low school satisfaction in classes where a lot of bullying takes place.
Sometimes bystanders can also feel a sense of guilt towards the victims, for they’ve done nothing to stop the bullying from continuing. This will either directly or indirectly influence their attitude towards the bullying issue – they may switch from sympathizing with to blaming the victims or be so desensitized that they eventually see bullying as being normal.