How does bullying affect people?

Question Does bullying really have such a bad effect on people?

Answer If you are being bullied you might:

  • Feel anxious, depressed, lonely or insecure and feel like crying a lot.
  • Be unable to concentrate in class.
  • Feel angry and wonder why this is happening to you.
  • Regularly end up in physical fights or arguments while trying to defend yourself.
  • Feel afraid to go to school and nervous if you’re on your own.
  • Think the problem is relentless and wonder if it will ever stop.
  • Feel lonely, isolated and avoid group situations.
  • Spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do or where to go to avoid being harassed.
  • Think your parents would be worried or upset if you told them.
  • Notice that your health is suffering such as changes in your appetite, difficulty sleeping or tension headaches.
  • Feel afraid to check text messages or emails or look at social networking sites like Facebook in case there’s another cruel message about you.
  • Start to think that maybe the insults and taunts are true and wonder if it’s your own fault.
  • Have mood swings with a range of feelings from loneliness to anger.
  • Wish you could talk to someone but you are not sure what you want to say.
  • No longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy and drop out of activity groups or clubs.
  • Feel trapped, helpless, withdrawn and like no one understands.
  • Notice that these feelings are causing you to be unhappy at home and you are feeling moody or short tempered with your parents/carers, brothers or sisters.

‘Some kids who are bullied believe it’s their fault. They think there is something wrong with them and they are worth picking on.’ Evan, 16

‘... but, don’t believe what they are saying. Believe in yourself. No-one deserves to be treated like that. Bullying is bad... it makes you feel bad ­– but YOU are not bad – it’s the bullying that’s bad – not you!’ Paul, 15

If you are feeling any of these things remember you are not alone and it is not your fault. There IS help available. Bullying is a serious problem and all of the feelings that you have are to be expected. It’s time to TALK about the problem and GET HELP.

Find someone who you can trust and who will listen to you.

Question What if the bullying goes on a long time?


Long-term bullying can lead to depression and feelings that you are worthless. Some of these effects can last for a long time, even into adulthood. A person who is bullied may become an adult who finds it hard to trust others, has problems making or keeping friends and lacks in confidence or self-worth.

If you have been bullied long term you may need specialised help from someone like a counsellor or therapist. Talk to someone as soon as possible. A parent or your family doctor will be able to help you find someone who can support you with your feelings of depression, stress or anxiety.

During times of depression, sadness, stress or emotional anxiety, some people may ‘self harm’ (e.g. self cutting, abusing alcohol) or they may feel suicidal. This is very serious. If this is happening for you, you need help as soon as possible.

Question Will anyone understand what I am going through? It doesn’t seem like it.

Answer Even if you think no one understands what you are going through, remember there is help available for you.

The first thing you should do is talk to someone about the self harming and the feelings you are having. Talk to a friend, family member or someone you know you can trust. Feeling depressed or stressed is not uncommon and when you talk about the problem you may feel a sense of relief. Even just talking about it can help.

You can link in with your school counsellor or doctor for advice also. Your GP (general practitioner – family doctor) can give advice about counselling services in your area.

Do you know someone who is self harming or talking about suicide? Contact their family or close friends as soon as possible as they may be unaware that this is happening. This is a serious issue and urgent help is needed for the person.

If you are with someone who has self harmed you should immediately go to the A&E department of the nearest hospital.


It is important that you look after yourself at this time and take the right steps for you. Some of the tips in our Well-Being section will also be helpful for you.

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