These Are the Startling Consequences of Childhood Bullying


Bullying, it turns out,causes so much more than hurt feelings. In fact, as new research is showing, it can have dramatic consequences well into adulthood. And it’s not just for the victims of bullying, either; bullies themselves, as well as children who are both bully and are bullied, also have similar lifelong problems.

The study, co-authored by Duke University School of Medicine associate professor William Copeland and Dieter Wolke, tracked 1,273 students from 1993, when they were 9 to 13 years old, until they reached 24 to 26 years old. The children who were involved in bullying in any way, roughly 1/3 of the participants, were more likely to have poor health, face financial difficulties, and have trouble in the workplace, school, and even in social relationships. And this just adds to the research published last year by the same team, which found that bullied children were more likely to suffer from mental illnesses as adults.

Even when researchers removed underlying circumstances, such as pre-existing family issues and psychiatric illnesses, the results stayed the same. Though victims were far more likely to face negative consequences as adults, bullies themselves do not fare as well as adults who had no involvement in bullying whatsoever.

Bullying, the authors wrote, is so much more than, “a harmless, almost inevitable, part of growing up.” Wolke stresses that the ideas about bullying need to be changed because, “the effects are long-lasting and significant.

So what are these startling consequences of bullying? Click to the next page for a breakdown of the study’s findings.

Earlier:6 of the World’s Most Unusual Schools


Victims of bullying are 6 times as likely to have a serious illness, like cancer or diabetes, and develop a serious psychiatric illness. Victims are much more likely to be at risk for suicide, too.

Risky Behavior.

Victims of bullying are six times as likely to smoke cigarettes as adults, four times as likely to have been charged with a felony, and more likely to smoke marijuana. Adults involved in bullying at all as children are also more likely to drop out of school and be obese.

Money & Work.

Children involved in bullying in any way are two times as likely to have difficulty maintaining a job and commit to saving money. Thus, they’re more likely to experience poverty in early adulthood.


Children involved in bullying in any way are more likely to have a harder time maintaining good ties with their parents or carrying on long friendships. Researchers did not find any impact on the likeliehood of getting married or having children, however.

Earlier:6 of the World’s Most Unusual Schools

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Anne Girolami
Anne Girolami1 years ago

Let’s End This Madness

Anne Girolami
Anne Girolami1 years ago

As a society, we admire and reward the success of focused directness. The question is: What happens when acceptable “assertiveness” is shoved over… into unacceptable “aggressiveness” and bullying? Where is this line drawn, and who actually draws that line between the two?

Our children, our family, friends, and every person breathing on this earth are important, are worthy, are loved and cherished for who they are. We are important, worthy, and cherished for who we are—and not what we do, what we look like, how much money we have, etc.

If children grew up with this knowledge embedded in their hearts, I believe that there would be less potential victims of bullying; teen suicides and/or attempted suicides would be reduced; and so many other positive effects will follow them through adulthood.

If adults had this knowledge embedded in their hearts, I believe that there would be less abuse, fewer suicides, and less domestic violence and killings.

If all of us believed this in our own hearts, we wouldn’t sit back and allow others to be threatened, bullied, or abused. We would have the courage to step in and do something… and not stand by and let things happen, because we’re afraid of getting involved.

We need to do is share this simple message—over and over again—until this knowledge is so deeply embedded in everyone we come in contact with that no words, actions, or persons can take that away from them.

Summerannie Moon
Summerannie M.1 years ago

Bullying does have a lasting impact on your life.

JL A.2 years ago

underlines the importance of addressing the issue no matter who does the bullying and no matter where it is happening

JL A.2 years ago

Ghastly that schools and other administrators let it slide or ignore given the serious harms involved

sandra j.
sandra j.2 years ago


June Bostock
June Bostock2 years ago

Bullying is abuse and the bullies should be severely punished. They are ruining peoples lives.

Genoveva M.
Genoveva M G.2 years ago

Thanks Katie for this artic

Lynne Willey
Lynne Willey2 years ago

I was bullied for most of my early life by a parent. I am sad to see all of these negative results, and sad to see so many people suffer, but at least it explains a lot.

Jane H.
Jane H.2 years ago

My gay son was bullied in the 7th grade for being gay. I got him to a different school the next year (the bullying unbeknownst by me) where he thrived. He did think about suicide for a while, but all is well now. He is a fine man, and doing well. I am very grateful.