Bullying can affect everyone; those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying.
Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide.
It is important to talk to children to determine whether bullying, or something else, is a concern.
Children who are bullied
Children who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues.
Children 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.
Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardised 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.
Children who bully others
Childrens who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood.
Children who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
- Get into fights, vandalise property, and drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Children 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
The Relationship between Bullying and 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 children 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 black and minority ethnic, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.
This risk can be increased further when these children are not supported by parents, peers, and schools.
Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.