Traumatic childhood bullying experiences often contribute to challenges in adulthood in areas such as health, socialization, finances, and career stability.
Four Ways Bullying Affects Adulthood
1. Bullying can impact mental and physical well-being.
It also puts individuals at an increased risk of developing physical health problems; such as headaches, sleep disorders, and chronic pain.
2. Bullying survivors are at risk of developing occupational and financial challenges such as:
- lower levels of educational attainment (e.g., high school diploma vs. college degree)
- reduced career options (e.g., may be reluctant to pursue the skills needed for particular careers)
- lower income levels (e.g., bullying survivors may be hesitant to seek the high-paying career they want, or they might have trouble holding down a job due to challenges with anxiety, depression, motivation, or self-esteem)
3. Bullying can lead to criminal involvement and substance abuse.
Some children who get bullied may eventually develop aggressive or dangerous behaviors, which can contribute to criminal behavior in adulthood.
Additionally, evidence suggests a connection between bullying and the likelihood of developing substance abuse problems in adolescence and adulthood.
4. Bullying can cause social challenges.
Children who were involved in one or more traumatic bullying situations, often face challenges with forming and maintaining relationships as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
They are at risk of social isolation. and may have difficulties with trust and intimacy. This can impact their overall social well-being and quality of life.
Supportive and effective interventions in childhood are likely to reduce the long-term health and social costs of bullying.
Examples of interventions to reduce the impact of bullying include:
- Ensuring a school-wide anti-bullying policy is in place (click here for ideas and examples)
- Social-emotional learning programs that teach children social skills such as empathy, emotional regulation, and conflict resolution.
- Foster bullying awareness – Bring the topic of bullying to the attention of students, parents, and school staff. Talk about the consequences and life-long negative impacts of bullying. Remind all about the importance of treating everyone with kindness, respect, and empathy both in and out of the school environment.
- Create a positive school climate – when school staff members work together to develop a calm and supportive atmosphere, students are more likely to feel safe to talk about an issue or concern, such as bullying. When students are open and share with school staff, it makes it easier for staff to know what the problems are and how to potentially address them.
- Involve parents in anti-bullying efforts – Provide resources and/or courses or seminars to parents so they can recognize and address bullying effectively.
Rachel Wise is the author and founder of Education and Behavior. Rachel created Education and Behavior in 2014 for adults to have an easy way to access research-based information to support children in the areas of learning, behavior, and social-emotional development. As a survivor of abuse, neglect, and bullying, Rachel slipped through the cracks of her school and community. Education and Behavior hopes to play a role in preventing that from happening to other children. Rachel is also the author of Building Confidence and Improving Behavior in Children: A Guide for Parents and Teachers.
“Children do best when there is consistency within and across settings (i.e., home, school, community). Education and Behavior allows us to maintain that consistency.”