Possible effects of bullying

Bullying has been linked to numerous negative effects, both short and long-term. Research carried in in the Republic of Ireland shows that students in primary and secondary schools, who have been involved in bullying, either as perpetrators, victims, or both – had lower self-esteem compared to students who were not involved in bullying.

Students who spanned both roles, being both the perpetrator and victim, proved to have the lowest self-esteem of all. 

Research from Finland shows decisively that depression and suicidal tendencies are more common among both perpetrators and victims. This insight gives an urgency in dealing with any background of bullying among students as it can disrupt learning and wellbeing in the worst possible way with permanent consequences.

Incidents of bullying are also linked to other health problems. Students who are bullied at the start of the school year have a greater chance of developing new health-related symptoms during the year such as abdominal pain and reduced immune function, in addition to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. 

Correlation between different forms of bullying 

All students are now growing up as digital natives with a merging of online and physical lives into one homogeneous continuation. Strong connections between traditional forms of bullying and cyberbullying have existed for a long time. Now we can say that a student who is being subjected to traditional bullying at school, is also subjected to cyberbullying and vice versa as the line between reality and online is so blurred. Taking videos or posting comments online is just one example, and can amplify the original bullying source, becoming a new incident which can continue 24 hours a day and be more easily hidden when looking at the online context of bullying. 

Possible roles 

Research suggest that bullying is a group process that also includes spectators, and that it is not solely a matter that involves the abuser(s) and victim(s). 

Six key roles have been identified: Bully, victim, amplifier to the bully, assistant to the bully, defender of the victim, and outsiders who are passive.

This shows how spectators can react in different ways, and also underlines their importance in terms of how they can influence bullying.

The same roles can be transferred online, where you can take roles that reinforce and assist, for example by posting comments, clicking ‘like’, sharing, blocking or freezing out others. 

Teaching awareness related to bullying is a vital step towards building a supportive environment and increasing wellbeing, involving all students, not just the perpetrators and victims.