Question: My tween is a victim of bullying. I know that being victimized has many immediate effects, but what are the consequences of bullying in the long run?
Answer: Although individual emotional responses and consequences to bullying can vary, research often shows that, unfortunately, the consequences of bullying can be long lasting. This is especially the case for verbal and relational forms of bullying, which seem to be particularly potent over time.
The biggest issues that childhood victims of bullying face in adulthood involve so-called "internalizing problems." These issues include depression and anxiety. In addition, child victims have lower self-esteem in their twenties than people who were not bullied.
People who were bullied during childhood are also more likely to have issues with adult romantic relationships. For instance, male victims have been found to be more inhibited around women. Victims of both sexes may have issues with sexual functioning. In addition, former victims show increased rates of abusiveness in relationships than their non-victimized peers.
All in all, the effects of bullying may extend beyond the tween and teen years well into adulthood. Thus knowing the signs of bullying and intervening quickly are critical to a child's healthy functioning over the lifespan.
Smokowski, Paul R., and Kopasz, Kelly Holland. Bullying in school: An overview of types, effects, family characteristics, and intervention strategies. 2005. Children & Schools. 27,2: 101-110.
Vanderbilt, Douglas, and Augustyn, Marilyn. The effects of bullying. 2010. Pediatrics and Child Health. 20,7: 315-320.