The devastating impact of bullying on children and young people

1st November 2023 | Blogs | News

Did you know that the impact of bullying can extend far beyond childhood, leaving a lasting imprint on the emotional and mental wellbeing of children and young people? In this blog, we'll explore the profound and enduring consequences of bullying that can continue into adulthood, and we'll also provide some guidance on how to address and prevent bullying in your school. 

The prevalence of bullying is alarming. In the 2021/22 academic year, a report by the DfE found that 1 in 5 secondary school pupils reported being a victim of bullying, as did 1 in 4 parents (23%). These statistics highlight the urgency of addressing this issue and fostering a culture of acceptance, diversity, and inclusion for our children and young people. 

The Emotional Scars 

According to statistics from the DfE, victims of bullying are twice as likely to be absent from school due to anxiety or mental health problems. A staggering 32% of them face these challenges, in contrast to the 16% of their peers who haven't been bullied. This difference is a testament to the heavy burden that bullying places on its victims. 

Loneliness is another weight that presses down on those who have experienced bullying. A staggering 24% endure feelings of isolation, while only 9% of those that haven’t been bullied bear this burden. These numbers paint a distressing picture of the emotional turmoil and isolation that bullying inflicts. 

The Many Faces of Bullying 

Bullying comes in various forms, each equally damaging. In a survey by Ditch the Label, the most common types of bullying that children and young people experience include: 

Social Exclusion (89%): Victims are pushed to the fringes of social circles, isolated, and excluded. 

Verbal Bullying (86%): Hurtful words and insults take a toll on the victim's self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. 

Rumours (54%): Spreading false or malicious information can cause significant harm to a person's reputation and mental health. 

Intimidation (35%): Fear and intimidation are used to control and harm the victim. 

Cyberbullying (37%): The digital age has introduced a new form of bullying, causing harm through online platforms. 

Being Threatened (24%): Threats can create a hostile environment, filled with fear and anxiety. 

Physical Assault (24%): Acts of aggression and violence, leading to both physical harm and emotional scars that can leave a lasting impact. 

Long-term Impact 

Bullying's hurtful legacy doesn't just fade away with time; it sticks around well into adulthood. If you were bullied as a child, you're more likely to face some tough challenges when you grow up. 

Mental Health: Bullying can impact your wellbeing for a long time. It often leads to problems like anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that can hang around into adulthood. 

Weight and Health: Stress caused by bullying can even make you more likely to struggle with obesity later on. Those childhood scars can affect your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing. 

Education and Work: Adults who were bullied as kids tend to have a harder time in school. They're more likely to leave without qualifications and might struggle to find a good job or earn as much as their peers. 

Relationships: Building and maintaining healthy relationships can be tougher for those who were bullied. It can affect your ability to find stable, loving connections in your adult life. 

These long-term effects make it clear that bullying isn't just a childhood issue. It's a challenge that can stick with you for years, underscoring the need for robust anti-bullying measures and creating inclusive, supportive environments for children and young people. 

In addressing this issue, we have the power to change lives and provide a brighter, bully-free future for our children and young people. 

How to address and prevent bullying in your school 

In order to effectively address and prevent bullying within your school, it is crucial to establish an anti-bullying culture where any form of bullying is unaccepted, and where comprehensive support and measures are readily available for both prevention and intervention. A pivotal starting point involves implementing a robust anti-bullying policy that is well-known and understood by all members of the school community, including staff, pupils, and parents. 

To acquire the skills necessary for assessing and enhancing your current practices, and to gain a deep understanding of the neuroscience behind bullying behaviour, watch our Thrive in Action webinar recording, 'How to create an anti-bullying culture in your school or setting.' 


Ready to create an anti-bullying culture in your school? Download our webinar recording and receive our free toolkit

In just 45 minutes, you'll gain valuable insights and tools to empower you and your team to tackle bullying head-on and create a positive, inclusive atmosphere. Here's what you can expect: 

• A clear grasp of the neuroscience and motivations behind bullying behaviour 
• An understanding of why punitive measures can have an adverse effect on creating an anti-bullying culture in schools 
• Tips for tackling bullying behaviour in-the-moment as well as kickstarting a preventative approach 
• Thrive’s audit and action plan, and relational anti-bullying policy template - so you can audit existing practice and enhance where required  

Get the recording and receive your free audit and policy template by clicking below.



Over to you

Click here to schedule a Discovery Call with your regional expert to find out how Thrive can help your setting create an anti-bullying culture that supports all children and young people. Designed to fit in around your schedule, these free 30-minute conversations via Teams give you a chance to have your questions answered and decide if our service is a fit for your needs.


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