Bullying has become a national problem. Parents, schools and community leaders have addressed this epidemic by instituting more stringent rules to protect children and teenagers. The effects of bullying behavior produce negative, long-range consequences for both the bully and the victim. Understanding the effects of bullying can protect teens and kids while preventing the creation of additional victims. Poor School Performance Parents expect that schools will provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children to learn and excel academically. However, when a child or teen faces the threat of bullying, it can have a detrimental effect on academic performance. Bullied students risk getting poor grades, because they often skip school to avoid physical or verbal aggression. According to a study from the Undergraduate Research Journal for Human Sciences, "School Bullying Hurts: Evidence of Psychological and Academic Challenges Among Students with Bullying Histories," bullied students have lower reading comprehension outcomes. The study reports that students who encounter bullying lose significant cognitive resources such as attention, concentration and language skills. Propensity Toward Future Aggression Children and teens who bully become more likely to develop antisocial behaviors, engage in vandalism and experiment with drugs. This aggression, if not halted, can worsen as a child or teen matures. According to an article on HealthyPlace.com, "The Impact of Bullying," teens who bully are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of a crime by age 24. Additionally, teens and children who bully have a greater chance of developing antisocial personality disorders. Mental Illness Bullying can be psychologically damaging to teens and children -- so damaging that it can cause a child to develop a mental illness. Victimized children and teens often report headaches, depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem. According to a 2013 study from JAMA Psychiatry online, "Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence," bullies and victims of bullying are at risk for depression, anxiety and panic disorders. The researchers also add that when compared to young adults with no history of bullying, former victims had higher risks for developing psychological disorders. Neurological Problems The effects of bullying may cause significant neurological problems for children and teens. Kids who experience bullying may have reduced connectivity of neurons in their brain, which can interrupt the growth of new neurons. This inability for the brain to grow neurons, according to "Inside the Bullied Brain: The Alarming Neuroscience of Taunting," as reported on Boston.com, is similar to the effects of childhood physical trauma. Additionally, a 2010 article from The American Journal of Psychiatry, "Hurtful Words: Association of Exposure to Peer Verbal Abuse with Elevated Psychiatric Symptom Scores and Corpus Callosum Abnormalities," states that young adults who reported being bullied by their peers had abnormalities in the brain which affect visual processing and memory.
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