The impact of bullying

Bullying has a negative impact on everyone involved; the target, the bully and the bystanders.

students in schoolyard

Impact on students who are bullied

Students who are bullied are more likely to:

  • feel disconnected from school and not like school
  • have lower academic outcomes, including lower attendance and completion rates
  • lack quality friendships at school
  • display high levels of emotion that indicate vulnerability and low levels of resilience
  • be less well accepted by peers, avoid conflict and be socially withdrawn
  • have low self-esteem
  • have depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • have nightmares
  • feel wary or suspicious of others
  • have an increased risk of depression and substance abuse
  • in extreme cases, have a higher risk of suicide, however, the reasons why a person may be at risk of suicide are extremely complicated.

Contributing factors to being bullied may include:

  • depression
  • family problems
  • history of trauma
  • belonging to a minority group, where isolation or lack of community support is an issue.

Impact on bullies

Students who frequently bully others are more likely to:

  • feel disconnected from school and dislike school
  • get into fights, vandalise property and leave school early.

In addition, recent Victorian research has shown that bullying perpetration in Year 10 is associated with an increased likelihood of theft, violent behaviour and binge drinking.

Impact on 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.

Impact on schools

When bullying continues and a school does not take action, the entire school climate and culture can be negatively affected. This impacts on student learning and engagement, staff retention and satisfaction and parental confidence in the school, which can lead to:

  • the school developing an environment of fear and disrespect
  • students experiencing difficulty learning
  • students feeling insecure
  • students disliking school
  • students perceiving that teachers and staff have little control and don't care about them.