Bullying Series – Part 4 of 5: Signs and Long-Term Effects of Bullying

signs effects teen bullying

Part 4: Signs and Effects of Bullying

I was happy to provide info about bullying for a News 2 WKRN special on teen mental health recently. The interview was about 30 minutes long, but the segment only lasted about 4 minutes. We talked about bullying signs and effects as part of that. So in an effort to provide more information about bullying, I’ve decided to make a 5-part series of blogs to give some more information.

Want more information or need to catch up on the past bullying series blog posts? Check them out here
Part 1: What is Bullying in 2018?
Part 2: Cyberbullying: The New Face of Bullying in Teens
Part 3: Who is at Risk of Being Bullied and Bullying?

I make every effort to help folks prevent problems so that they aren’t under the stress of trying to fix them. It’s no different with bullying. But the fact is that it will happen for about 20% of teens (NCES & Bureau of Justice Statistics). Considering that less than 45% will report this, parents and other adults need to be aware of what bullying signs are.

Signs of Being Bullied

Quite of these bullying signs will be similar to symptoms of depressed mood or anxiety.

  1. You may see changes in sleeping or eating habits. This can be increased appetite and sleep, or decreased. You may notice significant weight gain or loss, as well as a decrease in energy.
  2. Your teen may mysteriously “lose” things, or their belongings may be broken often.
  3. They may have frequent injuries that don’t seem so typical and have trouble explaining how the injuries happened.
  4. Grades may suffer.
  5. They may appear hopeless or express feeling this way.
  6. Low self-esteem may become obvious.
  7. Additional indications may include a sudden loss of interest in fun activities, making excuses or lying to avoid school, or suddenly hating school.

The fact is that when you begin seeing signs, your child may already be struggling emotionally. Effects of bullying don’t necessarily stop when bullying stops. It is important to be aware of the effects so that you can take the best course of action if you notice them.

Possible Effects of Bullying

Being bullied has the potential for lasting effects. These may include:

  1. Social anxiety or panic attacks.
  2. Self-confidence may be affected.
  3. They may begin to internalize some of the bullying. Their opinion of themselves can be negatively affected, possibly leading to depression, or extending to other issues such as eating disorders.
  4. If they truly feel that their situation is hopeless, there may be thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

This information isn’t here to scare you, but it is good to be aware of. These are examples of possible effects. Your child may not experience these. The more you know, the more you can monitor your teen and assure they receive the support they need.

You may be wondering why so few teens report bullying. Why not get help and make it stop? There are good reasons. There may be hesitancy to report, due to feeling helpless, fear of being labeled a “snitch” or experiencing more severe bullying as payback. There is also the concern of being judged as weak or being embarrassed. The belief that others won’t understand or that there will be a negative impact on social life may also cause teens to avoid reporting. Remember, the majority of your teen’s social life is likely to exist in the same place where they experience bullying – and possibly report it.

Hopefully, this information gives you a bit more to look for and to help prevent bullying from going too far.

So, what do you do about bullying? That’s the big question, right? Part 5 will address ways to deal with bullying and its effects.