The bullying epidemic in the United States causes more than 160,000 kids to stay home from school each day, according to National Education Association estimates. Teasing, hitting, spreading rumors and making threats are forms of bullying that commonly occur on school grounds. While the impact of bullying varies from child to child, many victims experience short- and long-term effects that are difficult to recover from.
Poor Academic Performance
Research shows that victims of constant bullying are less likely to perform well in school. In a 2005 study, UCLA researchers followed a group of middle school students over a three-year period and recognized a direct correlation between excessive bullying and poor academic performance. Students who experienced a high level of bullying throughout the three years had substantially lower grades than those who experienced a low level of bullying or were not bullied at all. According to UCLA Psychologist Jaana Juvonen, those suffering the effects of bullying are generally unmotivated to learn.
Children who are bullied at school commonly feel tense, anxious and afraid, which makes it difficult for them to view themselves in a positive light. Bullies thrive on making others feel inadequate and worthless, and they are often successful. A child who lacks confidence often withdraws from others and is rarely happy. Substance abuse, obesity, mental health issues and violent outbursts can also develop due to low self-esteem, according to a 2010 article in "Academic Pediatrics."
Depression and Suicide
Ongoing feelings of sadness can cause severe depression in bullied children. Suicidal thoughts are common in depressed children, and bullying has contributed to many suicides among U.S. teens. Suicidal children might engage in reckless behaviors, injure themselves, or show a sudden interest in death or dying. Closely monitor your child so you can recognize any subtle or extreme changes in his behavior.
What Parents Can Do
Regularly communicate with your child about bullying. Share statistics, discuss the severe effects of bullying on school-age children and encourage her to be kind to others despite any differences. Speak to school administrators about your district's anti-bullying policies and the methods used to enforce them. If your child is a victim of bullying, encourage her to stand up for herself without using violence and speak to a school official about the situation. Contact school administrators and seek psychological help for your child if she's the victim of severe bullying.
- American Psychiatric Association: Helping Your Child Deal with Bullying
- UCLA Newsroom: Victims of Bullying Suffer Academically as Well, UCLA Psychologists Report
- HealthyChildren.org: Bullies Beat Down Self-Esteem
- Academic Pediatrics: Characteristics Associated with Low Self-Esteem Among U.S. Adolescents
- New York State Senate: Teen Bullying & Suicide