Youth 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 and school participation.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures.
Youth Who Bully
Kids who bully others may also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. They may be more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs
- Get into fights, vandalize property
- Drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
- Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
- Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Miss or skip school
The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide
Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.
Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.
What can parents do?
Parents should be aware that their children could well be the victims of bullying, could be bystanders, and could be participants in bullying others.
If a child is accused of bullying behavior, we recommend parents take it seriously, not be too defensive of their child, and consider that many good kids are capable of participating in bullying at some point, under some conditions.
Here are some questions to ask a child to help determine if they are being bullied.
- Do you have a nickname?
- Have you been teased?
- What kinds of things do the others tease you about?
- What’s recess/break like for you? PE? Lunch? Before school? After school?
- Has any of the kids said or done anything to you just to make you feel bad? How about online or on your phone?
If you have reason to believe your child is being bullied, here are some things to consider doing.
- First and foremost: Offer comfort and support. LISTEN. Assure your availability to listen and help.
- Support your child’s non-violent response to bullying
- Help student develop peer support (new friends, peer activities that provides connection and support.
- Initiate regular check-in conversations on an ongoing basis
- Speak to the school counselor regarding additional steps
- Report bullying that occurs at school to school counselors or administrators. You may call, email, or make an appointment. Utilize the school’s Reporting Line to communicate with administrators and counselors about a bullying situation.
- Be aware of danger of making things worse. When children who are bullied tell adults, they are often worried that they will get bullied even more if the adults do not handle the situation well. If it is known to peers that bullying victim has told adults, he or she may be shunned or otherwise mistreated. This is why it is important for adults to carefully plan a proper way of dealing with the situation.
- Work closely and cooperatively with school. Avoid “Us against the school” approach
- Recognize it is complex problem to be worked on over time.