Bullying can have damaging effects on both the person bullying and the person being bullied. In some cases, the negative impact of bullying can be long term.
27 per cent of young people report they are bullied every two weeks or more often.1
Cyberbullying happens to about 1 in 10 Australian young people every few weeks or more often.2
Bullying can seriously damage physical, social and emotional health. Students who are bullied are more likely to have low self-esteem and poor assertiveness skills. This can affect their psychological and mental health, and result in academic difficulties due to social exclusion, peer rejection, depression, and negative self-perceptions. They are also more likely to have poorer health and more somatic complaints, more interpersonal difficulties, higher levels of loneliness, suicidal ideation and increased anxiety. Alternatively, students who bully others are more likely to be aggressive, impulsive, insecure, lack empathy and have poor personal and social skills.3
Students who are bullied by others in the schoolyard and other 'real' environments often feel more comfortable communicating online, and are significantly more likely (51 per cent) to engage in cyberbullying as a means of retaliating against serious conventional bullying.4
Bullying is an intra and inter-generational phenomenon, with children who bully others at the age of 14 years likely to still engage in aggression at the age of 32 years and to have children who themselves engage in bullying and aggression.5
Not all children who bully are on the trajectory that leads to violence and criminality later in life. But of all children, these are the ones most at risk for eventually committing violent crimes.6
A study in Sweden found 60 per cent of the boys labelled as 'bullies' in Years 6-9 (aged 13 to 16) had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24. Former school bullies were four times more likely than other students to engage in relatively serious crime.7
Young people who are bullied tend to have a dislike of and want to avoid school.8
1.Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. 2009. Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS). Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth.
4. Ybarra, M. (2004). Linkages between depressive symptomology and internet harassment among young regular internet users. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7(2), 247-257.
6. Morrison, B., Bullying and Victimisation in Schools: a restorative justice approach, Australian Institute of Family Studies, no 219, 2002
7. Olweus, D. (1994). Bullying at school. In R. Huesmann (Ed.), Aggressive behaviour. Current perspectives. New York: Plenum Press.
8. Rigby, K. (1997). What children tell us about bullying in schools. Children Australia, 22(2), 28-34.