Many children who are being bullied are afraid to speak out for a number of reasons: they may be ashamed and embarrassed, feeling they have let their parents down in some way by showing “weakness”, they may be scared of reprisals or the bullying getting worse, or they may fear that no-one will believe them. They may under so much pressure not to tell that they deny anything is wrong, even if they are asked by a caring adult. Moreover, studies have shown that young people are less likely to tell someone as they grow older.
The effects on victims of bullying can range from mild to extreme and short- to long-term and each situation can impact differently on an individual due to different personalities and likely reactions. The effects are wide-ranging and can continue to impact on them for the rest of their lives, causing them to hold negative ideas about themselves and creating problems in forming loving relationships. In the worst cases, the consequences of bullying can manifest from mental health problems to violent cases of revenge and an increased propensity to commit suicide.
Effects of Bullying:
- Isolation and loneliness;
- Intense pessimism;
- Low achievement academically or career-wise;
- Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem;
- Reduced ability to concentrate;
- Lack of motivation or energy;
- Lack of appetite/comfort eating;
- Alcohol, drug or substance abuse;
- Aggressive behaviour;
- Problems with sleeping;
- Stomach and bowel disorders;
- Panic attacks;
- Nervous breakdown;
- Self-harm or suicide
The bullies too suffer consequences. If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Bullying is violence after all and it often leads to more violent behaviour as the bully grows up and the patterns of aggression and intimidation become more entrenched. In addition to increased tendencies to smoke, drink, vandalise and get into fights, studies suggest that 25% of elementary school bullies will have a criminal record by the time they are 30, while teen bullies often fail in school, careers, friendships and relationships as they get older.