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Consequences of bullying

Though bullying is pervasive in U.S. schools, teachers and principals significantly underestimate the amount of bullying that takes place in their schools and classrooms. Even more importantly, too many are reluctant to get involved when they do spot it. Children repeatedly report that when they tell teachers and principals at school about bullying, the adults don't take them seriously, or they make them feel responsible for going back to address the bully and “work it out.” Bullying, in its various forms, is too pervasive and too damaging for teachers and principals to ignore it. Research has documented the following consequences of bullying for students and schools:

Effects on victims:

  • Young victims become unhappy, distressed and confused.
  • Victims of all ages become anxious and insecure and may lose self-esteem.
  • Consistent threats and/or physical assault may impair concentration, result in a refusal to attend school and lead to possible school failure.
  • Victims may develop psychosomatic symptoms such as stomach ache and headaches.
  • Constant humiliation and degradation may lead to depression and suicide.
  • Victims tend to be more depressed in adulthood and have poorer self-esteem than their non-victimized peers.

Effects on bullies:

  • Children, especially boys, who bully are more likely to engage in other aggressive and harmful behavior (e.g., vandalism, substance abuse, etc.) into adulthood.
  • Physical bullying is a moderate risk factor for serious violence at ages 15-25.
  • Bullies are five times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of crimes by age 30.

Effects on school social climate:

  • Most students feel less safe and are less satisfied with school life in schools where bullying goes unchecked.
  • In schools where bullying is ignored, students may begin to think that bullying behavior is acceptable. This may result in increases in bullying behavior and possibly more severe problems and violence.