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A boy looking down and sad while three children point and look at him in the background.

​​​​​​​How does bullying affect health and well-being?

Bullying can affect physical and emotional health, both in the short term and later in life. It can lead to physical injury, social problems, emotional problems, and even death.1 Those who are bullied are at increased risk for mental health problems, headaches, and problems adjusting to school.2 Bullying also can cause long-term damage to self-esteem.3

Children and adolescents who are bullies are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems, and violence to others later in life.2

Those who are both bullies and victims of bullying suffer the most serious effects of bullying and are at greater risk for mental and behavioral problems than those who are only bullied or who are only bullies.2

NICHD research studies show that anyone involved with bullying—those who bully others, those who are bullied, and those who bully and are bullied—are at increased risk for depression.4

NICHD-funded research studies also found that unlike traditional forms of bullying, youth who are bullied electronically—such as by computer or cell phone—are at higher risk for depression than the youth who bully them.5 Even more surprising, the same studies found that cyber victims were at higher risk for depression than were cyberbullies or bully-victims (i.e., those who both bully others and are bullied themselves), which was not found in any other form of bullying. Read more about these findings in the NICHD news release: Depression High Among Youth Victims of School Cyberbullying, NIH Researchers Report.

Citations

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Fact sheet: Understanding bullying. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying_factsheet.pdf (PDF - 356 KB). [top]
  2. Smokowski, P. R., & Kopasz, K. H. (2005). Bullying in school: An overview of types, effects, family characteristics, and intervention strategies. Children and Schools, 27, 101–109. [top]
  3. Reece, T. (2008). Bullies beat down self esteem. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Bullies-Beat-Down-Self-Esteem.asp External Web Site Policy[top]
  4. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2010). Taking a stand against bullying. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/resources/spotlight/Pages/092110-taking-stand-against-bullying.aspx [top]
  5. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2012). Focus on children's mental health research at the NICHD. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/resources/spotlight/Pages/060112-childrens-mental-health.aspx [top]

Who is affected and how many are at risk for bullying?​​

What are common signs of being bullied?​​

How does bullying affect health and well-being?

Are there risk factors for being bullied?​

What can be done to help someone who is being bullied?