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Fast Facts: Impact of bullying

Is bullying really something to be worried about?

Bullying affects everyone involved, including people who witness it. It can have serious and long-term emotional or psychological consequences in addition to the immediate harmful effects.

Communities that condone or ignore bullying may create an environment where more serious anti-social behaviour is condoned.

Bullying undermines key values that schools aim to promote in students – respect, trust and honesty.

Isn't bullying just a normal part of growing up?

Bullying is not a normal stage that all children and young people pass through, and it is not just something to put up with as 'part of life'. Behaviour that is intended to harm can impede healthy development.

Ignoring bullying or thinking that it is just something that children and young people do or that it will be 'character building' can give silent approval for bullying to continue and further traumatise those who are bullied.

What are the impacts of bullying on those people who are bullied?

Being bullied can result in a person feeling miserable and powerless, so the response of those around that person is important in making a change.

Research shows that bullying can have a negative impact on students' academic performance, self-esteem, coping skills, and can increase anxiety and unhappiness. It is important that students, staff and parents get involved to make a positive change.

Bullying can negatively affect how children and young people see themselves and how they feel about themselves.

What are the impacts on those who bully others?

The outcomes for people who bully others are also not good in the long-term. Children and young people who bully others may come to see bullying as a normal and acceptable way to behave. Those who bully others need support to learn more appropriate ways of behaving and of resolving conflict to prepare them for adulthood and to reduce the likelihood of developing even more serious anti-social behaviours.

Is there an impact on bystanders to bullying?

Bystanders are present in many bullying incidents. Research indicates that bystanders can be negatively impacted by witnessing bullying.

Next: Ways to counter bullying.

Download the complete set of Fast Facts: Bullying in Schools (PDF, 210KB).