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How Bullying Affects Kids

Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness,
and poor sleep, explains Jennifer N. Caudle, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician in
Philadelphia. Making the issue worse is the fact that such negative effects of bullying often go
unnoticed, as many victims feel the need to conceal the fact that they are being
bullied because they are embarrassed or afraid of further bullying. More often than not victims
respond passively to bullying. They tend to act anxious and appear less confident. They may
become quieter in class and, as a result, the bullying can become a hindrance on their academic
success. Therefore, bullying is a problem that, if left unattended, can become a significant
hurdle in a childs development

Kids 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 achievementGPA and standardized test scoresand 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. In 12 of 15 school
shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

Kids Who Bully Others

Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are
more likely to:

Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults

Get into fights, vandalize property, and 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

The bullying they suffer sometimes triggers other traumatic events they have suffered;
it sometimes even causes victims to become bullies themselves. The trickle-down effect
thus becomes an ugly reality for many sufferers.

If the child also lacks family support, the effects can be more devastating. As the child
attempts to make sense of the traumatic event, new behavioral problems can emanate
from re-experienced traumatic events. In addition, some children affected by traumatic
events may disassociate themselves from the traumatic situations and absorb
themselves in behaviors that generate negative attention. These new behavioral
adaptations may become so potent that opportunities for typical development and
growth are ignored as the child attempts to ensure her own safety.

Although these groups have different semantics for explaining why bullying occurs,
there is always a common theme: power and control.