Some of the common effects of bullying on the victim include:

  • Stress
  • Reduced Ability to Concentrate
  • Lack of Motivation Or Energy
  • Poor Or Deteriorating School Work
  • Anxiety About Going To School
  • Loss of Confidence & Self Esteem
  • Lack Of Appetite / Comfort Eating
  • Alcohol, Drug Or Substance Abuse
  • Aggressive Behaviour
  • Depression
  • Problems with Sleeping: Nightmares, Bedwetting, Sweats
  • Stomach & Bowel Disorders
  • Panic Attacks
  • Nervous Breakdown
  • Attempted Suicide

Effects on Physical Health

Studies have found that victims are more likely to miss school through illness, experience subjective health complaints and lower levels of life satisfaction than those not involved in bullying. (WHO, 2002)

Effects on Mental Well Being

Anger, upset and fear are the most obvious emotional effects of both traditional and cyberbullying (O’Moore & Minton, 2009)  Victims have found to suffer changes in personality, experience mood swings, and been found to have great feelings of inadequacy when it comes to self-esteem, while depression, thoughts of suicide and suicide itself are increasingly recognised as being associated with bullying in childhood and adolescence.

Effects on Educational Well Being

Unhappiness in school would naturally lead to an unwillingness to attend, and absenteeism/truancy can often be a pointer towards a possibly bullying issue.  For those who do attend, children who are being bullied are often unable to draw maximum benefit from the classroom because much of their energy is directed towards fear of the next incident of bullying. (Gastic, 2008; Boulton et al, 2008)

Long Term/Chronic Effects of Being Bullied

The poor self esteem that can develop from being bullied in childhood can have long term consequences for those who suffer it, with their adulthood similarly affected by poor ideas of self worth and depression.  Studies have shown that a wide range of psychological problems can develop, and trust issues can become a notable factor.  It should be noted that should the school/authorities fail to act in a timely or constructive manner this can compound the bullying for the victim, and affect trust levels for the victim in regards to both organisations and individuals.  (Sourander, et al 2007; Phillips, H., 2004 )

Effects of Bullying Others

Bullying does not just have consequences for the victims, those who bully are also found to have personal repercussions for their actions.  

General Health

The World Health Organisations study (2008) on school children reported that bullies general health was in fact poorer than those they bullied, with more girls than boys affected.

Mental Health

Bullies also show heightened levels of suicidal thoughts and depression. And it has been claimed that the greatest risk of suicidal was detected among the youngers who bullied. (Kaltialo-Heino,R. 1999).  Research has also found that when depressive symptoms increased in bullies so too did the aggression directed at the victim. (Roland, 2002)

Long Term Consequences

Bullying others in school is associated with an increased risk of developing an anti-social personality in later life.  It heightens the likelihood of drug abuse and lawbreaking behaviour in adulthood, while educational attainment has also been found to suffer.  In addition it as been found to lead to violence in later relationships, with evidence also to suggest that girls who bully in childhood will develop an aggressive parenting style. (Huesman et al, 2009;  Connolly et al, 2000)

Effects on Bully-Victims

It is only recently that those who are both bullied and bully others (bully-victims) have come to be regarded as a distinct group. However, there is evidence that points to them having greater psychological problems than either victims or bullies.

While victims tend to suffer from anxiety disorders and bullies from conduct disorders, bully victims are affected by both.  As their behaviours cause them to be more isolated from their peers than either victims or bullies they have a higher rate of absenteeism than either.  They also suffer from depression to a greater extent than pure bullies or victims.

In addition studies have found that bully-victims have a high rate of developing a psychiatric disorder in later life in comparison to bullies or victims, and five times the rate of those who have never been bullied.

Effects on Bystanders

Another often overlooked group are the bystanders, who by stepping in can often risk losing their peer groups esteem and becoming isolated themselves.  Alternatively by not stepping in they can carry the guilt of not acting forward with them into adulthood.


Suggested Further Reading & Links

Young People’s Health in context: Health Behaviour in School-aged children (HBSC). Study, Intermediate Report from 2001/2001 Survey. Heal Policy for Children and Adolescents. No 4. 2004.
Cyberbullying : The Irish Experience. (2009) O’Moore, A.M. & Minton, S.J. in Quin, C. & Tawse, S. Handbook of Aggressive Behaviour Research, Hauppage, N.Y. Nova Science Publishers, U.S.
Associations between Peer Victimisation, Fear of Victimisation and Disrupted Concentration on Class Work Among Junior School Pupils. (2008)  Boulton, M.J., Trueman, M. & Murray, L. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78 (3) pp.473 – 489.
What is the early adulthood outcome of boys who bully or are bullied in Childhood? Finnish ‘From a Boy to a Man’ study. (2007) Sourander et al, in Paediatrics, 120, pp 397-404.
Effects of Bullying worse for Teens. (2004) Phillips, H. New Scientist, 29.
Bullying, Depression & Suicidal Ideation in Finnish Adolescents : School Survey. (1999) Kalitialo-Heino, K. et al. British Medical Journal. 319. pp.348-351
Aggression, Depression & Bullying Others (2002) Roland, E. Aggressive Behaviour, 28, pp 198-206.
School Truancy and the disciplinary problems of bullying victims. (2008) Gastic, B.  Educational Review. 60 (4) pp 391 – 404.
Beatbullying – Bullying & Truancy Report (2006)
Video – Sticks & Stones -
Video – Bullying and its effects on a child -