The effect bullying has on teens


Bullying plagues many students in the U.S. In American schools there are around 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims. Up to 56 percent of students have witnessed some form of bullying and bullying has caused 15 percent of school absenteeism. As much as 71 percent of students find bullying to be a problem at their school, which is no surprise seeing how 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary school each month. The issue of bullying comes in many forms as well: physical, verbal, indirect (spreading stories, social exclusion, etc) and cyber bullying. Cyber bullying has also progressed to encompass seven different types of bullying via texts, pictures/videos, phone calls, emails, chat-rooms, instant messaging and bullying through websites.

Knowing all this, it isn’t far-fetched to think that bullying can have a serious emotional and social toll on the victims. Paul Smokowski and his colleagues conducted a study to examine the outcomes for bullying victims based on their school experiences, perceived social support and mental health outcomes.

Researchers examined a sample of 3,127 youths and looked at three different types of bullying victims: episodic current year victims, episodic last year victims, chronic victims and non victims. Students were categorized as chronic victims if they had been victimized in year one and year two. Episodic current year victims were bullied in year two, but not year one while episodic last year victims had been bullied in year one, but not year two.

Victimization was measured based on two main variables: where they had been bullied within the past 12 months on school property and where they had ever been electronically bullied. Researchers looked at how bullying affected students’ school satisfaction, school danger, school hassles, perceived discrimination, parent support, teacher support, friend support, peer rejection, future optimism, self-esteem, depression, anxiety and aggression. The study also took into account variables such as demographics, physical/verbal victimization and cyberbullying in year one and other variables.

The researchers for this study had hypothesized that the chronic victims would have the worst outcomes closely followed by both types of episodic victims. Non-victims were thought to have the best outcomes. The study’s results pointed out that, in fact, all three victim groups (episodic past and current year, chronic both years) had worse developmental outcomes than non victims. Chronic victimization was found to cause the lowest reported levels of school satisfaction, school safety, perceived social support, future optimism and self-esteem. Chronic victims were also found to have the highest levels of peer rejection, anxiety, depression and aggression. Given these results, the researchers came to the conclusion that chronic victimization could be a source of interpersonal trauma.

This study is adding on to what other studies have been establishing: bullying causes negative outcomes for the victims. In cases when victimization is stopped, previous studies have suggested that the victims are able to recover from the experience. However, should it continue, it takes a serious toll on the victim. Consequences of bullying can range as well. Victims may suffer from depression and anxiety and feel less safe at school or they could be pushed to the limit. Some victims feel hopeless enough that they turn to suicide. Others may show up to school with a gun and plan for revenge. Statistics have already discovered the revenge for bullying is the strongest motivation for school shootings. Up to 87 percent of students say shootings are motivated by the victims’ urge to get back at those who have hurt them while  86 percent of students say other students picking on, making fun of and bullying victims causes teens to turn to lethal violence.

Overall, the problem of bullying shouldn’t be ignored. It is more damaging than many parents and authority figures may realize. It may be time to stop perceiving bullying as a right of passage and treat it as a serious issue for the sake of the teen victims and their futures.

If a teen is suffering from depression, anxiety or other issues due to bullying it may be a good idea to seek help. To learn more about treatment for teen boys you can go to or call 866-520-0905 for more information.

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