When it comes to bullying, there are consequences for both the victim and perpetrator. 

Michael Butkus, PhD, LP, provides the following Q&A that can help. 

What are the effects bullying can have on the victim?

There are numerous potential consequences.  These include increased stress, anxiety, and worrying about both going to and being in school. Victims can have school attendance problems and physical complaints such as stomachaches and headaches. 

Other potential issues include:

  • Sleep and appetite disturbances
  • Decreased assertiveness
  • Increased insecurity and crying/withdrawal
  • Chronic low self-esteem
  • Risk being shunned by peers
  • Depression which may be seen as irritability or anger
  • Suicidal thinking/behavior
  • Decreased concentration and academic achievement
  • Victims may turn to bullying others
  • Need for psychotherapy to help decrease the above effects
  • Extreme consequence: a bully-victim (youth who was bullied and bullies back) who kills 

What are some effects bullying has on the perpetrator?

  • Decreased social relationships
  • Tendency to use external means to cope with their own problems, e.g., victimizing others
  • Tendency toward increased use of physical aggression and suffering consequences
  • Stepping stone to delinquent or antisocial behavior
  • Long-term, contributes to the development of low self-esteem
  • Long-term, as parents, they may have children who bully too 

What are some tips for the victim?

  • Talk to teacher, parent, friends, if you don’t want to go to school or get nervous and worried about going or feel sad and suicidal.
  • Believe that something can be done about it and you have a right to be treated respectfully
  • Ignore; if that doesn’t work…
  • Move away; if that doesn’t work…
  • Talk friendly; if that doesn’t work…
  • Talk firmly; if that doesn’t work…
  • Get adult help
  • Don’t engage a cyberbully with more emails or send offending email to others
  • Keep all the evidence and show to adults
  • Tell parents, school
  • Block emails and cell numbers
  • Change phone numbers, email addresses 

 What can/should the bully do?

  • Try to feel what the victim might be feeling
  • Think how you would feel, if you were bullied
  • Be honest and admit that you have hurt another’s feelings and reputation
  • Talk to friends and let them know you don’t like what you did
  • Realize that you are bullying mostly to gain attention of others at the expense of another; there are healthier ways to be accepted and admired
  • Own up to your behavior; talk to adults about it; get counseling
  • Apologize to victim 

bullyingMichael Butkus, PhD, LP, is a clinical psychologist at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan.  Visit www.childrensdmc.org for further health information.