The Hurt from Bullying can Last a Lifetime— For the Bully, Bullied, and Bystander

Cartoon showing the effects of bullying

Bullying can have long-lasting effects on the person being bullied. But did you know that bullying can also have negative effects on the bully and the people who witness the bullying?

Here are the facts about the effects of bullying.

Bullied kids can experience:

  • Depression and feelings of loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Lower grades and decreased academic performance
  • Decreased participation in school, both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities
  • Fear of going to school
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Physical illness like migraines

In extreme cases, they may experience suicidal thoughts. However, there are usually other contributing factors (such as problems at home and trauma) in addition to the bullying.

Additionally, in a very small number of cases, bullies have retaliated in a violent way.

Bullies are more likely to:

  • Get into fights more frequently
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Leave school early and/or dropout of school
  • Engage in sexual activity early
  • Vandalize property
  • Get bad grades

As adults, they are more likely to receive criminal convictions and traffic citations. They are also more likely to abuse their romantic partners and/or children.

Bystanders who witness bullying may:

  • Feel scared to go to school causing them to miss or skip
  • Have an increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Feel guilty for not doing more to stop bullying
  • Have more mental health issues like depression and anxiety

The effects of bullying don’t just stop once a child becomes an adult. A JAMA Psychology study found that as adults:

  • People who were bullied had a greater risk for anxiety disorders
  • People who were bullied and also bullies greater risk of depression and panic disorder
  • People who were bullied had a greater risk for antisocial personality disorder