Short- and Long-Term Consequences for Victims

The experience of being bullied can devastate a young person. In addition to the social, emotional, and/or physical torment of the actual bullying experience, victims are also more likely than students who have not been bullied to suffer from high levels of anxiety and emotional distress, more actual and perceived (psychosomatic) health problems, and enduring mental health problems. Their everyday life is characterized by fear, their self-concept is beaten down, and their efforts to avoid confrontations with their tormentors deprive them of many important and healthy experiences.
A Big Problem

More 8 to 15 year-olds identified teasing and bullying as "big problems" than those who picked drugs or alcohol, racism, AIDS, or pressure to have sex, in a survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For example, according to the National Association of School Psychologists, approximately 160,000 students miss school each day because of fear of being bullied. Furthermore, victims of bullying often lose their friends both directly and indirectly as a result of their bullying experiences. Some friends confuse a victim's efforts to avoid the bully with attempts to avoid them, others are afraid of becoming victims themselves, and still others come to dislike the victim due to his or her
inability to deal more effectively with the bully.

Higher levels of depression are common among bullying victims, with suicidal ideation being four to five times as common among victims as non-victims. For many, the psychological effects of the bullying experience are long-
lasting. In fact, research has found that former victims of
bullying still had higher levels of depression and poorer
self-esteem at the age of 23, despite the fact that, as
adults, they were no more harassed or socially isolated
than adults who had not experienced bullying in their youth.

Youth Artwork:

1.  Untitled: This picture is from the Chill Out Space of the Bullying. No Way! Web site.


Kaiser Family Foundation, & Children Now. (2001). Talking with Kids About Tough Issues: A National Survey of Parents and Kids, Summary of Findings. Available on-line at: Retrieved January, 2004.

Olweus, D. (1994). Bullying at School: Long-Term Outcomes for Victims and an Effective School-Based Intervention Program. In L.R. Huesmann (Ed.), Aggressive Behavior: Current Perspectives (pp. 97-130). New York: Plenum Press.

Ross, D. (2003). Childhood Bullying, Teasing, and Violence: What School Personnel, Other Professionals, and Parents Can Do (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.