The Effects Of Bullying And How To Overcome Them

Updated March 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It Can Be Hard To Work Through The Effects Of Bullying

Bullying is a societal problem that has received considerable amounts of attention and press over the past few years. Many researchers and specialists have studied bullying, its adverse impacts, and steps that can be taken to overcome the negative aftermath. Although bullying is most commonly thought of as an issue within elementary through middle school, it can also be a problem in the adult world. Ultimately, the effects of bullying can be devastating and far-reaching. Thankfully, they can be overcome with time and effort; however, before the effects of bullying can be overcome, they must first be understood. Continue reading the article if you want to learn more about the psychology of bullying.

An Overview Of Bullying

Psychology Today defines bullying as "a distinctive pattern of harming and humiliating others, specifically those who are in some way smaller, weaker, younger or in any way more vulnerable than the bully." Bullying is regarded as a behavior that is learned and not inherited. In rare cases, sociopaths or psychopaths may bully people simply for amusement. However, nine times out of ten, individuals who become bullies are believed to have picked up this troublesome behavior at an earlier stage of life without the intervention of their parents, caregivers, or guardians.

Research into bullying has shown that the majority of bullies are antisocial and either unaware or indifferent towards the emotions and feelings of others. While some bullies may suffer from low self-esteem, others do not, although they may have tense relationships with the people in their lives, including parents, siblings, children, teachers or coworkers.

Unfortunately, the rise of modern technology has greatly enabled bullying. It is not uncommon to hear of people being catfished or slammed with nasty messages from behind fake accounts. Of course, virtually every social media site has a block button, but bullies who are truly dedicated and have too much time on their hands will often create fake accounts to circumvents blocks and other measures designed to halt the bullying.

In most cases, bullies target people they deem as easy prey. This could be someone who is new to a particular environment or simply someone who appears to lack qualities such as strength or confidence. However, via technology, bullies are often enabled and emboldened to target people who disagree with them or post something online which displeases them.

Regardless of the reason or method of bullying, virtually everyone agrees that the practice is highly problematic and must be counteracted. Many people have taken their own lives due to bullying and yet it persists.

“If you are thinking about suicide, considering harming yourself or others, feeling that any other person may be in any danger, or if you have any medical emergency, you must immediately call the emergency service number (1-800-273-8255 in the US and 0800-689-5652 in the UK) and notify the relevant authorities. Seek immediate in-person assistance.”

The Effects Of Bullying

It Can Be Hard To Work Through The Effects Of Bullying

While bullying most certainly affects the victims in many different ways, it can also impact witnesses and the bullies themselves. Nobody wins regarding bullying, and to combat bullying, the effects must be thoroughly examined and explained.

Those who experience bullying—whether children or adults—are considerably more likely to suffer from anxiety, sadness, depression, loneliness, eating disorders, trouble with sleeping, and other health problems. Furthermore, the academic performance of school-aged victims of bullying is also likely to decrease. Lower test score and grade point averages were reported in addition to higher rates of truancy and dropping out of school.

The Effects Of Being A Bystander Or The Bully

Witnesses of bullying suffer almost as much as the victims. Although they are not being bullied, they could become perpetrators or victims of the practice. Bystanders may also feel afraid to speak out or report bullying due to the possibility of them becoming the newest targets of the bullies. Finally, individuals who witness bullying are considerably more likely to abuse alcohol, drugs, or tobacco; engage in truancy; and experience anxiety and depression.

One could argue that individuals who engage in bullying are the biggest losers out of victims, witnesses, and bullies. Although some victims have taken their own lives, many others have overcome the negative experiences and come out stronger.

Aside from having the mistreatment of others on their conscience, bullies are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, destroy public property, wind up in physical altercations, and become academic dropouts. Studies furthermore affirm that bullies are more prone to having criminal records and abusing their significant others and children in their adult lives. In other words, rarely is there a happy ending for people who knowingly and willfully bully others.

How To Overcome The Effects Of Bullying

How to cope with bullying at school? One of the most powerful ways to overcome the impacts of bullying is to halt the bully in their tracks. For as tough as bullies may appear to be on the surface, deep, deep down, they are cowards. Perpetrators of bullying thrive on certain things, and when those things are changed, suddenly their bravado evaporates.

Ignoring The Bully Does Not Always Work

In finding ways how to stop bullying, people are often told that merely ignoring a bully will solve the problem. The bully will supposedly get bored and move onto the next victim. However, this theory is not true and has been debunked on multiple occasions. Psychology Today affirms that many bullies essentially "test the waters" before they fully target someone. If the person at hand does not push back against the bully, he or she sees the lack of response as a green light to double down on their bad behavior.

Regardless of age, anyone who is experiencing bullying needs to take action immediately. The ill conduct is not going to simply stop if a victim acts as if it the behavior does not exist. Depending on the severity of the situation, victims of bullying need to either tell the perpetrator to knock off their malicious behavior or simply report the situation to a higher authority. Sometimes that higher authority could be a professional superior or even law enforcement. Nevertheless, bullying is a toxin which must be nipped in the bud to prevent infestation.

Individuals who witness bullying can also take certain steps to overcome the negative impacts of the behavior. While speaking out can be challenging, bystanders should still do so, even if they report the incident unspecified. Bullies thrive off silence and fear. They count upon people being too scared or reluctant to report their bad behavior. As long as witnesses do nothing, they are contributing to the culture of bullying and increasing the likelihood of worsening effects.

Finally, bullies themselves can overcome the adverse aftermath of their behavior via deep self-reflection and ceasing to target others. Bullies need to take the time to seriously ask themselves why they are singling out other people. They may feel powerful at the moment, but in reality, the future for bullies is considerably grim. Bullying is a choice, although if perpetrators are serious about changing their decisions, they can, and should, seek out help.

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

How To Overcome The Effects Of Cyberbullying

As technology advances, avenues for cyberbullying are surging. As stated earlier, many cyberbullies are emboldened and empowered by the ability to target others from behind a screen where they cannot be seen and can easily hide their identity. In some cases, simply muting or blocking the cyberbullying stops the behavior, but this is not successful in all cases.

Unfortunately, certain cyberbullies interpret being blocked as a challenge, and their determination to target the individual at hand increases. This determination can lead to the creation of multiple social media accounts, all designed to harass another person online.

In the instance above, targeted individuals should not engage the individual, but rather save the screenshots of the cyberbullies. One of the greatest upsides of social media is that virtually everything is typed or written in one form or another. This makes saving the information in Dropbox or the Cloud effortless.

When a person is the target of nonstop harassment, saving and storing the information is paramount and helps to establish a pattern of behavior. Depending on the location of the bully, those who use the internet and social media as weapons to target and malign others can be held accountable for their actions by law.

A Final Word

It is very important for anyone who is being bullied to understand that they are not at fault. Bullies ultimately target people because of issues or shortcomings on their end. Although victims and witnesses are not directly responsible for the actions of a bully, they can still combat bullying by speaking out, standing up, and reporting perpetrators. No human being deserves to be targeted and maligned for any reason whatsoever. Individuals who engage in this behavior must be held accountable for their actions.


Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing the best forms of guidance and support, all available wherever there's an internet connection and an electronic device. Regardless of what you may be experiencing or going through, sitting down with a counselor or therapist can make all the difference. Far too often, people are told that seeking out professional help is a sign of weakness, but the strongest individuals are the ones who are willing to seek out help when they need it.

Bullying happens in small towns, bigger towns, and large cities alike. It can be difficult to find help when you're suffering from the effects of bullying. Online therapy can bring help to victims no matter where they're located, and the growing popularity of online therapy means more people are being helped.

If you've been bullied and are looking for help, don't hesitate to contact BetterHelp. We're here for you.

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