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Publication #FAR1712

Outcomes of Bullying1

Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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Bullying has been around for generations and has in the past been viewed as a rite of passage or harmless youthful behavior that makes children stronger or tougher. Now bullying is considered a public health problem that affects as many as 29% of students and has serious negative impacts for the bully and for the victim (Barnett, 2005; National Institutes of Health, 2001).

Children who are the targets of bullying have low self-esteem and often endure "serious emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety" (Barnett, 2005, p. 2). They cannot concentrate on schoolwork or don't go to school at all (National Mental Health Information Center, 2003; Sampson, 2004). Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health reported that children bullied once a week or more were more vulnerable to poorer health, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and thoughts of suicide than children who were not bullied. Some of these problems last even into adulthood (National Institutes of Health, 2001).

Young people who bully also experience problems. They are more likely to be involved in other problem behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, and they don't do as well in school. They are more likely to engage in criminal activity later in life.

Parents need to be aware of signs of bullying and, if it occurs, make contact with their child's school right away. A plan can be developed to address the problem and protect the child. In addition, a number of schools in the U.S. have been successful in reducing bullying by increasing adult supervision where bullying usually happens—in cafeterias, bathrooms, hallways, stairwells, and schoolyards. Clear rules against bullying and support for those who are bullied also help (Harrison, 2005; National Mental Health Information Center, 2003; Sampson, 2004).

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Gibson, P. A. (2005). Intergenerational parenting from the perspective of African American grandmothers. Family Relations, 54, 280-297.



This document is FAR1712, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 405 in April 2009. Published on EDIS August 2012. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.