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Physical effects of bullying

Updated July 20, 2017

The physical effects of bullying can range from the development of an eating disorder to bruises on victims. Children who bully are four times as likely to engage in more serious criminal offences by the age of 24 than children who do not bully, according to mychildsafety.net. Physical effects of bullying occur in the victim and the perpetrator; bullies have a higher risk of abusing drugs and alcohol, and these substances have a physical effect on the body.

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Eating Disorders

Especially in girls, but also in young men, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia can manifest due to bullying about weight or physical appearance. According to one BBC report, over half of eating disorder sufferers report bullying as a major factor in their illness. One 17-year-old bullying victim, Hannah Bilverstone or Hertfordshire, England, was reported as saying, "Controlling my food and my exercise gave me the control back and it made me feel empowered." Bullying can make young people feel powerless and out of control, and eating disorders can become a new way to take control.


Bruising is another physical effect of bullying. If you suspect your child is being physically bullied, check his shoulders, neck, abdomen and face for bruising and report your findings to the principal of the school. Extreme physical abuse could result in more serious physical effects.

Baggy Eyes and Restlessness

Baggy eyes and restlessness are signs of anxiety, depression and lack of sleep, which may be brought on by bullying. According to stopbullying.gov, bullying can create changes in sleep patterns and increased feelings of sadness and loneliness. In general, bullying victims are more likely to have health complaints, as one study reported bullying victims had physical health issues three years after the bullying ended.

Substance Abuse

People who are bullied and who bully are more likely to have substance abuse problems in adolescence, according to stopbullying.org. Drugs help people escape reality, and for both the bully and the victim, reality can be grim. Additionally, bullies are more likely to get into physical fights, vandalise property and abuse their romantic partners.

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About the Author

Based in Providence, R.I., Myles Ellison has been writing professionally since 2007. He has published work in the "MCLA Beacon" and "Tourism Review International." In 2010, Ellison began profiling small-business owners while working on a street revitalization project. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies, concentrating in English, journalism and anthropology.

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