Effects of Bullying on Adolescents


In contemporary realia, bullying remains a widespread phenomenon, as most adolescents suffer from this kind of violence on a daily basis. Adolescence is a stage of life during which there are many prospects for health, and subsequent adult health patterns are set. Bullying has a lasting effect on its victims, including profound mental impacts (Hemphill et al., 2019). As defined by Naveed et al. (2019), the general definition of bullying is a form of behavior with the intent of physical or psychological harm to a person, emphasized by the prevailing repetitiveness of such behavior. It can range from verbal insults to physical violence. This paper is structured to cover two effects divisions, represented by the impact on victims and perpetrators. The effects of bullying on adolescent victims are multilateral and unquestionably harmful, implying such phenomena and concepts as depression, suicide, insomnia, poor academic performance, and becoming a bully. Bullying causes detrimental effects on adolescents, such as externalizing behavior and mental health disorders, but it as well increases the popularity of those who are in the role of perpetrators.

Effects of Bullying on Victims

Generally speaking, bullying is between parties of different power, which can come from social status, age, group size, and other factors. Thus, victims often develop a sense of powerlessness against the aggressor as the victims struggle to protect themselves (Arya, 2021). These mental issues and the normalization of abuse lead to even more bullying, as the perpetrators and victims attempt to cope with it in unhealthy ways. Consequently, bullying has become severe enough for many countries to consider it a public health and safety risk. The particular effects covered in this section are depression, suicidal attempts, becoming a perpetrator, poor academic achievement as well as insomnia.


One of the most common mental health illnesses for both adolescent victims and assailants is depression. The abuse and power imbalance cause a sense of helplessness in victims. This emotion and repeated physical and physiological trauma from the abuse form the foundations of mental health issues in the later years. Furthermore, according to research, bullying victims have a delayed impact on depressive disorder in addition to its immediate impact (Stapinski et al., 2014). Naveed et al. (2019) conducted a cross-sectional study of students ages 10-17 in Nawabshah, Pakistan. They surveyed both victims and perpetrators of bullying and found both groups to experience “adverse emotional and social consequences” (Naveed et al., 2019, p. 1). Therefore, depressive symptoms are a severe effect of peer victimization that serves as a catalyst for further emerging problems, such as suicide attempts and ideation.

Suicidal Attempts and Ideation

Teen suicide is a devastating worldwide public health issue that affects young people, and it frequently occurs as a result of persistent bullying. Shireen et al. (2014) observed that adolescent bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely than non-victims to ponder suicide and self-harm. Additionally, a few research revealed that conventional bullying exclusively affects female suicidal ideation (Bauman et al., 2013). Bullying becomes more debilitating and destructive the more often it occurs. A depressed kid has emotions of melancholy and loneliness. Unfortunately, many victims of bullying lose interest in their hobbies, blame themselves for everything terrible that occurs in their immediate environment, and believe that life is not worth living. Violence and aggressiveness are ways that some young people are subject to bullying to express their feelings, and at this time, evidently, they may be more susceptible to suicide or harmful impulses. Thus, the majority of teenage suicide attempts can be linked to the effects of repetitive bullying incidents on its victims.


Bullying has the potential to result in a wide variety of physical problems for adolescents, among which is insomnia. For instance, numerous studies have linked teenage sleeping issues to peer victimization. According to Lepore & Kliewer (2013), peer victimization can cause anxiety and rumination, which makes it difficult to relieve stress and go to sleep. Nonetheless, it has been discovered that sleep issues are linked to decreased academic performance, depression, behavioral issues, and suicide (Woznica et al., 2015). According to the findings of the current study, children who experience bullying reveal more sleeping issues than youngsters who do not experience peer victimization (Van Geel et al., 2016). In comparison to other consequences like suicidal behavior, sleep issues could appear as a relatively trivial issue. This evidence is particularly valuable since insomnia is a severe issue that affects teenagers and has a variety of far-reaching harmful effects. As a result, insomnia is one of the effects that peer victimization has on adolescents who suffer from it and consequently can lead to poor academic performance.

Poor Academic Performance

Bullying frequently causes victims to lose out on educational chances, which lowers the caliber of their education and, as a result, their academic achievement. In this regard, research from around the world suggests that schools, and particularly the school environment, seem to have a significant impact on academic performance. As a result, adolescent victims of bullying oftentimes cannot take full advantage of their educational opportunities throughout their time in school. According to Van der Werf (2014), who studied high school adolescents in Colombia, more frequent bullying has a detrimental long-term impact on each student’s academic achievement. A rise of one variance in the average degree of bullying lowers a student’s test performance, especially when considering potential biases. Therefore, being bullied frequently results in an overall decline in adolescents’ academic performance.

Becoming a Bullying Perpetrator

Bullying victims may find themselves becoming perpetrators themselves, which is fairly uncommon. The likelihood of eventually engaging in bullying might rise for those who have been bullied as victims (Averdijk et al., 2016). According to Choi and Park (2018), in reaction to bullying victimization, students with greater self-esteem were more inclined to participate in future bullying perpetration, whereas students with lower self-esteem were less likely to do so. They are referred to as bully victims, and these individuals have the most mentally unbalanced issues. However, not all bullied individuals go on to bully others after being bullied themselves. It is important to note that, despite the fact that some bullied victims proceed to mistreat others, this is not always the case. Hence, adolescents who have already been victimized by perpetrators may react defensively by bullying others to shield their impressionable selves from underlying self-doubt and painful experiences.

Effects of Bullying on Perpetrators

When bullying crises occur at school, some teenagers take on the role of the bully, while others take on the role of the victim’s advocate. Adolescent bullies frequently discriminate in various forms of bullying, both physical and verbal (Hemphill et al., 2019). Bullying adolescents actively start harmful episodes and continually damages those who are weaker or less influential. This section aims to examine the effects adolescent bullies face, such as mental health disorders, externalizing behavior, popularity, and social dominance.

Externalizing Behaviour

Bullying not only hurts the victims, but it may also have a harmful impact on kids and teenagers who bully peers, causing externalizing behavior. The long-term effects of a child’s persistent bullying activities are anticipated to incorporate ongoing externalizing behavior issues and unhealthy relationships (Ttofi et al., 2012). Drug abuse, hostility and violence, theft, and vandalism are examples of externalizing behaviors (Vaughn et al., 2013). According to Lee et al. (2015), adolescents who were involved in bullying experiences often indicate greater levels of delinquency and violence. The externalizing continuum is a crucial concept in understanding teenage violence. Common behavioral apathy and what are known as acting-out tendencies are characteristics of externalizing liability. Therefore, evidence suggests that children who practice bullying generally display higher levels of externalizing difficulties throughout time.

Mental Health Disorders

Moreover, bullying offenders seem to bear even more implications for mental health illnesses. Aggressive behavior against others that is constant and recurrent can most certainly lead to changes in the perpetrator’s mental well-being. Naveed et al. (2019) concluded that “Bully-perpetrators exhibited the greater severity of depressive symptoms due to distress in psychosocial functioning” (p. 1). According to an empirical investigation, both victims and offenders had higher rates of young adult mental illnesses as well as higher rates of teenage psychiatric disorders and difficulties in their families (Copeland et al., 2013). Researchers discovered that bullies had an elevated risk of early adult depression, anxiety attacks, agoraphobia, and suicidal tendencies, as well as being subject to antisocial personality disorder (Copeland et al., 2013). Thus, mental health issues are indeed common among young bullies and present a major threat to the general health of the educational environment.

Popularity and Social Dominance

Numerous research has supported the notion that bullying and popularity are positively correlated. Popularity is described in terms of social visibility, with the level of a person’s popularity serving as an indicator of their social circle standing (Duffy et al., 2016). According to Duffy et al. (2016), bullying is linked to greater levels of popularity, and teenagers may use this conduct to get more respect from their peers or retain their current level of respect. Bullying others throughout adolescence is a strong indicator of perceived popularity and increases in social dominance. Additionally, bullies frequently seek fame more than normal people do. As a result, the high status that bullying bestows on its offenders, which is something they strive for, may account for the broad and ongoing high frequency of bullying, which is purposeful behavior. Therefore, popularity is an effect of bullying that is profitable from a social learning viewpoint and adaptable from an evolutionary standpoint to the extent that it gives access to sought assets.


Considering the pervasive nature and health risks, bullying is undeniably a major societal issue that has detrimental repercussions that are immediate, pleiotropic, and lengthy, affecting both bullies and victims. Bullying is not merely a normal part of maturing or a moral imperative. Bullying victims are more likely to have depression, sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance, and perpetrator behavior. Bullying perpetrators are considerably more vulnerable to mental illnesses such as agoraphobia, antisocial personality disorder, anxiety, and externalizing behavior. However, it is not rare for bullies to gain social recognition and popularity as an effect of their actions. Thus, bullying needs to be addressed on the societal level to mitigate its adverse outcomes.


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