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Impact of bullying

(from Janis Caroll-Lind (2010). Responsive Schools. Wellington: Office of the Children's Commissioner. pp 4-5)

This table explains how bullying can affect students on the bully/victim continuum.

Table 2: Impact of bullying on victims, bullies, and bystanders


· Interferes with victims’ physical, social, emotional, behavioural, and cognitive development.

· Contributes to lower academic performance because of adverse effects on engagement in education, higher absenteeism (school avoidance), and early school exit (dropout).22

· Associated with a range of negative outcomes including increased rates of mental health issues, relationship difficulties, and an elevated risk of violence towards others.23

· Physical symptoms include anxiety, social dysfunction, depression, school failure, risk-taking behaviours (e.g., alcohol and substance abuse), and decreased self-esteem.6

· Appearance-related teasing is associated with lowered self-esteem, and the effect on mental health status is perhaps more enduring for girls.24

· The impact of technological bullying is the same as that for traditional bullying. There are strong links between cyber-bullying and real world bullying; students who are bullied in cyberspace are also likely to be bullied at school.25

· The anonymity of text- and cyber-bullying means that people can write things they would never say face-to-face. Victims are often repeatedly re-victimised, as mobile phones allow a bully to have 24 hour access to a victim.26

· The impact of text- and cyber-bullying is often very serious. In New Zealand, suicides have been linked to these forms of bullying.27

· The more that bullying disrupts a victim’s life, the more likely it is to have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing.


· Bullies may experience peer rejection, academic failure, and/or low self-esteem.28

· Bullying-related suspensions have been steadily increasing, and bullies tend to drop out of school early.6,29

· Without intervention, bullies learn that using aggression is an acceptable way to get what they want.

· There are links between bullying and later delinquency and offending. Children who display aggressive and dominating behaviour at the age of eight are far more likely to be engaged in crime and violence at the age of 30. Those identified as school bullies are four times more likely than average to incur multiple criminal convictions.30,31,32


· Students that observe bullying sometimes follow the bully’s lead and become colluders because they fear they will be the next target if they do not or because they want to show a sense of belonging to the group.

· Bystanders may be more likely to use aggression themselves when they see no negative consequences for the bully.

· Can feel powerless and guilty about not intervening. Thus, bystanders (as well as their peers who were bullied) are affected by the abuse of power associated with bullying.

· Perceive their teachers as either unable or unwilling to control bullies’ behaviour.33,34

· Academic performance can suffer as students who perceive their school environment negatively tend to report more absenteeism and less interest in performing at school.35


Last Updated (Thursday, 08 September 2011 16:23)