Effects of Bullying on the Victim

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Schools are critical for individual development because they are the first place in which children receive formal learning. Schools provide them with basic knowledge and enable them to learn the skills they need to be successful in their lives. School environment greatly affects academic performance, and determines whether or not students make the most of the learning opportunities throughout their school careers.

It is essential to understand which factors within schools directly influence the quality of education that students experience and, consequently, their learning. One thing that can directly influence a student’s ability to learn, is bullying. Bullying has become a prevalent form of youth violence, particularly in school settings. 

Bullying is an unwanted, abuse of power or intentional harm-doing by peers that is done repeatedly. It is an imbalance of power between the victim and the bully and is one of the main problems in the school environment. According to the article, “Long-term effects of Bullying,” by Dieter Wolke and Suzet Tanya Lereya, one in three children report having been bullied at some point in their lives, and ten to fourteen percent have experienced chronic bullying for more than six months.

Besides affecting the self-esteem of the assaulted, bullying often results in situations in which both victims and perpetrators miss learning opportunities. Children spend majority of their day at school, and this is where they should be developing lifelong skills, but bullying can seriously hinder the development of such skills.

Bullying is a serious threat to our youth today and can have several short and long term effects emotionally, physically, and academically.

Kids who bully use their power to control or harm others and can be done in different ways. There are various types of bullying that can be experienced, and some can be more obvious than others. The types of bullying are: physical, verbal, isolation or exclusion, social, cyber, sexual, and racial bullying. Physical bullying is related to dominance and involves hurting a person’s body or possessions.

It can include hitting, tripping, kicking, pinching, pushing, or damaging property. Verbal bullying is saying or writing harmful things. It can involve name calling, insults, teasing, and intimidation. Words have a lot of power and can be very detrimental to a person’s self-image or self-esteem. Physical and verbal bullying tends to be more overt, while the others can be nearly invisible.

Isolation or exclusion bullying can be subtle and often takes place without adult awareness. It involves ignoring someone, openly excluding or isolating that individual, or giving someone the silent treatment. It is ultimately, a type of social rejection. Social bullying involves harming someone’s reputation or causing humiliation.

This includes lying, spreading rumors, encouraging exclusion, or damaging social reputation or acceptance. 

Cyber bullying involves technologies such as computers or smartphones where students can instant message, email, post, or share images. It involves hurtful or abusive messages, gossiping online, or posting nasty things about an individual. Some common places cyberbullying occurs are social media, short message services, and instant messenger. According to a website called stopbulling.gov, “The content an individual shares online-both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content-creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior.” Cyberbullying can be very destructive because it can be anonymous, go viral, and leave the victim with no safe place to escape. This makes cyber bullying unique because it is persistent, permanent, and can be hard to notice.

Sexual bullying involves unwelcome or unwanted sexual comments, attention, or physical contact. Racial bullying is a type of racism where the bullying is focused on race, ethnicity, or culture.

It can include being called racist names, racist jokes, and being insulted. The causes for bullying are varied; any student can become a target, regardless of race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status.

There are some warning signs for bullying that parents, teachers, or guardians should look out for. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. There can be certain warning signs at school, and certain warning signs at home.

At school, students who are bullied may become aggressive and unreasonable or start getting into fights. They may refuse to talk about what is bothering them and be a frequent target for teasing. Some other signs that may point to a bullying problem are unexplainable injuries or lost and destroyed clothing, jewelry, books, or money. Victims may also suffer from frequent stomachaches or headaches, or fake illnesses. They may have changes in eating habits, and they may come home from school hungry because they did not eat their lunch.

At home, they may suffer from frequent nightmares or have difficulty sleeping. They may not want to go to school or have a loss of interest in schoolwork and a decline in their grades. They might also want to change their method or route to school or be frightened of walking to school. Victims may have a sudden loss of friends or avoid school situations and isolate themselves.

They may also display self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide. 

Victims who are bullied online can also show specific warning signs. They may be hesitant about going online or seem nervous when an instant message, text, or email appears on their electronic devices. They may appear upset after getting off their phone or choose to avoid their phone entirely. Another sign is that they receive suspicious phone calls or packages. It is very important to be able to notice the warning signs because a lot of children do not notify adults that they are being bullied.

Bullying can make a child feel helpless and they may choose to try and handle it on their own to gain back control. They may also fear being seen as weak or a “tattletale.” Kids may fear backlash from the child bullying them.

Bullying can be a very humiliating experience and kids may not want adults to know because they may fear that they will be judged for being weak. Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated and feel that no one cares or can understand (stopbullying.gov). It is important for teachers to be able to recognize when bullying is occurring at school, and it is important for parents or guardians to recognize the warning signs at home. Bullying obviously causes many negative outcomes, but if an adult recognizes it and put it to a stop, the outcomes may become even more serious.

Bullying can be a very traumatic experience for those targeted and it can impact their lives greatly.

It can have several negative consequences for the victim; such consequences include psychological, social, educational, health, and even life and death. According to an article, “The Association between deliberate self-harm and school bullying victimization and the mediating effect of depressive symptoms and self-stigma,” by Karanikola, Lyberg, Holm, and Severinsson, developmental psychology supports that victimization during childhood may be a key factor associated with self-stigma. “Self-stigma takes place when individuals internalize the negative public attitudes and stereotypes about their status and further experience a wide range of adverse costs” (2). Self-stigma evokes intense feelings of embarrassment, worthlessness and harm to self-esteem. Bullying has been found to damage a child’s self-esteem and it can be so damaging that is lasts well into adulthood.

Depression also arises, because repeated hurt begins to alter a child’s view of the world. They may begin to doubt everyone and think that everyone is out to get them. They may begin to have a negative outlook on everyone and everything. Bullying can also impair their social-emotional growth. 

By being repeatedly injured or taunted, it may make that child become antisocial and limit their ability to make friends.

They tend to become shy and timid, and become guarded in social situations. This can impede their social development and limit their ability to form social connections with their peers. Children who are victims of bullying have been found to be at a higher risk for common somatic problems such as colds, or psychosomatic problems such as headaches, stomach aches, or difficulty sleeping. They may have difficulty sleeping because they are likely to experience nightmares and may or may not involve the bully. “Victims have also been reported to more often develop internalizing problems and anxiety disorder or depression disorder” (Wolke and Lereya 880).

Victims of bullying are often plagued with worries and fears, which can lead to anxiety disorders. Some other consequences are: social isolation, feelings of shame, changes in eating habits, low self-esteem, school avoidance, and bedwetting.

While it can be difficult to empathize with a bully, they can have some short-term effects also. Without help, the behavior will continue and become worse. Some effects can include poor school performance, increased truancy, vandalism, fighting, difficulty maintaining social relationships, and an increased risk of substance abuse.

Bullying can also cause negative mental health outcomes. The most severe long-term outcomes have been found for children who were chronic victims or bully-victims.

Children who were victims of bullying have been found to be at higher risk for internalizing problems, in particular, diagnoses of anxiety disorder and depression in young adulthood and middle adulthood. Victims are also at an increased risk for displaying psychotic experiences at age 18 and having suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicides (Wolke and Lereya 880). Victims of bullying have higher rates of suicide compared to their peers. Long term effects can include: chronic depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, difficulty trusting, antisocial behavior, and poor general health. Mark Dombeck discusses his story on being bullied in an article called, “The Long Term Effects of Bullying.” He was subjected to bullying on the school bus by a group of older neighborhood boys.

He was younger, more sensitive, and more vulnerable so they targeted him. Some days he made it home safe, other times he would be on the ground fending off blows and kicks. A ring of kids would show up and cheer on the aggressors. 

Thirty years later, and the experience still has not left him. He feels that being bullied has shaped him as an adult, but not for the better.

“For the most part, physical damage sustained in a fist fight heals readily, especially damage that is sustained during the resilient childhood years. What is far more difficult to mend is the primary wound that bullying victims suffer which is damage to their self-concepts; to their identities” (Dombeck). Being bullied may make victims feel undesirable, that they are no longer safe in the world, and that they are powerless to defend themselves. Being bullied forces these victims to contemplate their lack of control over and over again; this leads to depression and the feeling of hopelessness. They may feel weak and pathetic, which is a way they may define themselves and carry on later in life.

It can also carry into a student’s education.

Bullying has not only had negative consequences on quality of life, but also on student’s education. Bullying has been found to decrease school attendance rates, contact with peers and academic achievement, while it increases physical injuries and the incidence of depression.

Victims and perpetrators miss learning opportunities, and their quality of education and academic achievement may lower. According to the article, ‘The Effects of Bullying on Academic Achievement,” by Cynthia van der Werf, “School attendance negatively depends on the level of bullying to which each student is exposed to; those students who have never been bullied by their peers have the highest rate of school attendance while those who were victims of bullying spent 4.5% less time in school” (285). Bullying can also lower peer effects because victims have fewer friends and worse relationships with their peers. 

Victims often isolate themselves and become timid or angry and no longer create friendships. It is important to acknowledge that in schools with higher levels of bullying, classroom climate hinders learning process because students live in an environment of teasing, stress and anger, all of which negatively affect their ability to learn.

Furthermore, this type of environment decreases student motivation and prevents students from participating and asking questions in class because they are scared of the reaction of their peers (Van der Werf, Cynthia 285). It follows then that victims learn less as a result of having less interest in studying, not only because they often miss school but also because they learn less from their peers when they do not attend school. Bullied students may not participate in class when they sense a hostile school environment, because they are scared of their fellow classmates’ possible reactions (Van der Werf, Cynthia 295). A negative correlation has been found in more than 57 countries between bullying and student performance on academic tests. A substantial relationship was found between peer victimization, poorer academic functioning and absenteeism.

Frequent victimization by peers was associated with poor academic functioning, as indicated by grade point averages and achievement scores, on both concurrent and a predictive level. Victims also showed poor school adjustment and reported a more negative perceived school climate compared to bullies and uninvolved youth (Wolke and Lereyra 881). Being bullied throws a long shadow over victim’s lives.

Children spend majority of their days at school, and this should be a positive environment that fosters learning, but sadly this may not be the case for students who are bullied. Instead, they may see school as a negative environment that brings taunting, violence, and fear.

Some people may find bullying to be a normal part of childhood, because it is so common, but this should not be the case. There is nothing natural about the experience of being bullied. Bullying has severe consequences and harms a student’s sense of safety and well-being. Bullying should never be tolerated. It leads to many physical and mental health problems and may become a deterrent to learning.

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Effects of Bullying on the Victim. (2020, May 13). Retrieved July 20, 2024 , from

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