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The effects of bullying on those bullied, bullies, and those who witness bullying.

Bullying has a negative impact on everyone involved; the target, the bully and the bystanders. Bullying can lead to physical injury, social problems, emotional problems, and even death. Children and adolescents who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, headaches, and problems adjusting to school. It also can cause long-term damage to self-esteem.

The various roles in a bullying scenario:

  1. The person who engages in bullying behaviour
  2. The target who is subjected to the bullying behaviour
  3. An assistant who assists the bullying behaviour and actively joins in
  4. A supporter who encourages and gives silent approval to the bullying, by smiling, laughing or making comments
  1. A silent bystander who sees or knows about someone being bullied but is passive and does nothing, this may be an adult bystander
  2. A defender who supports the student who is being bullied by intervening, getting teacher support or comforting them.

Students who are bullied

Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
  • A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures.

Students who bully others

Students who intentionally bully others should be held accountable for their actions. Those who bully their peers are also more likely than those students who do not bully others to:

  • Get into frequent fights
  • Steal and vandalize property
  • Drink alcohol and smoke
  • Report poor grades
  • Perceive a negative climate at school
  • Carry a weapon

Students who are bystanders

Students who witness bullying may:

  • be reluctant to attend school
  • feel fearful or powerless to act and guilty for not acting
  • have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.

Bullying is often a vicious circle and all adults, including teachers, school staff and parents, should model positive bystander behaviour and intervene if they observe bullying behaviour occurring between students. When bullying continues and a school does not take action, the entire school climate can be affected by students having difficulty learning, feel insecure and dislike school. Students also feel helpless when they perceive that teachers and staff have little control and don’t care about them.

But one must note that not all students who bully others have obvious behavior problems or are engaged in rule-breaking activities, however. Some of them are highly skilled socially and good at ingratiating themselves with their teacher and other adults. This is true of some boys who bully, but is perhaps even more common among bullying girls. For this reason, it is often difficult for adults to discover or even imagine that these students engage in bullying behavior.

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