Medium and Long-term effects of
39. Surveys of young people consistently identify
bullying as the issue that they are most concerned about. Barnardo's
told us that
"In 2004, Barnardo's carried out consultations
with young people asking them about the topic of emotional wellbeing
and mental health. The key message that arose from the research
was that young people saw bullying as the factor most harmful
to their mental health."
We are aware that bullying can, potentially, be
very damaging to the children and young people involved. During
the inquiry we wanted to explore what form this damage could take
and how long the effects of bullying could last. Evidence on the
effects of bullying suggested that it causes a number of problems
ranging from general unhappiness, poor concentration, low-self
esteem, psychosomatic symptoms and anxiety to depression, self-harm
or suicide. The DfES said that there was evidence which showed
"primary school children who were bullied were more likely
to report disturbed sleep, bed-wetting, feeling sad, headaches
and stomach aches."
40. Written evidence from the DfES identifies targets
in two of the five Every Child Matters outcomes that are
related to bullying.
A joint target for the DWP and DfES in the 'stay safe' strand
is a reduction in the percentage of 11-15-year-olds who say they
have been bullied in the last 12 months. In the 'make a positive
contribution' strand, the Home Office monitor the percentage of
10-19-year-olds who admit to a) bullying another pupil in the
last 12 month and b) attacking, threatening or being rude due
to skin colour, race or religion. A recent report on bullying
states that this "categorisation is inevitably a simplification.
Bullies and their victims do not sit in distinct categories in
term of the adverse consequence they may experience. Bullying
can affect children and young people's potential to achieve all
41. According to Beatbullying, 36% of all truants
blame bullying. Beatbullying also note that there is a link between
truancy and youth crime; 23% of young offenders sentenced in court
have truanted to a significant degree and 45% of young people
who have committed an offence have also truanted.
The DfES states that truancy has a negative impact on future life
chances while the
British Association of Psychologists notes that links between
poor attainment and self-reported victimisation by peers have
been found at primary and secondary level.
42. Exclusion can also have a negative impact on
the educational achievement and life chances of children and young
people. We are concerned by the evidence that it is sometimes
the victims of bullying who are excluded. Chris Gravell told the
Committee that "schools unlawfully exclude children for so-called
health and safety reasons if they are victims of bullying."
Both Chris Gravell and Shobha Das reported that there were cases
where bullying had not been tackled by the schools until the victim
had retaliated and they had then been excluded. Chris Gravell
reported that about 5% of the exclusion cases ACE deal with related
to pupils having been excluded because they had retaliated against
43. We support
the right of schools to use exclusion as a disciplinary sanction.
However, we are concerned to hear that some schools are excluding
the victims of bullying on health and safety grounds. Violence
in retaliation against bullying is unacceptable and schools are
right to discipline the perpetrators of violence. However, we
would expect previous bullying to be taken into account when deciding
on appropriate disciplinary measures. We urge the Department to
issue new guidance to local authorities and schools, as a matter
of urgency, covering not only when exclusions should be used,
but also when they must not be used, for example, to prevent the
victims of bullying from attending school.
44. We have heard evidence that pupils felt aggrieved
that some forms of punishmentexclusion and isolation were
in fact no real punishment at all. We have already acknowledged
that support and mentoring need to be available to the perpetrators
of bullyingas part of 'rehabilitation' but we would strongly
agree with the views of pupils that punishment should indeed be
a punishment and a deterrent to other would-be bullies.
45. We recommend
that punishment regimes are reviewed to incorporate where permissible
'pupil suggested' punishments i.e. litter picking and school clean
ups. This will bring pupils to the heart of the process and they
will feel that they have had a real influence in the measures
to tackle the issue. It also means that the pupils will have determined
what they feel is a 'fair punishment' for these matters.
46. The majority of the evidence we have seen suggests
the effects of bullying can last into adulthood. Barnardo's notes
"There is a great debate about the effect of
resilience in young people for coping with bullying behaviour
as it is widely understood that bullying affects some young people
worse than others."
The DfES suggest "bullying can continue to affect
the individual long after the bullying has actually stopped. In
some cases anxiety, insecurity, lack of trust and feelings of
unhappiness persist long into adult life."
Parents are also concerned about the long-term effects of bullying,
with a Parentline survey finding 97.6% of parents believe that
bullying had long term effects.
47. While bullying can have a lasting effect on the
attainment and well-being of victims, during the inquiry we became
increasingly concerned about the effect of bullying on the bullies
themselves. The DfES told us:
"bullying behaviour learnt as a child can continue
into adult life, particularly if such behaviour was not challenged
during childhood or was an everyday part of the child's upbringing
] Adults who bullied other children during childhood can
behave similarly towards other adults and children, particularly
those in their immediate circle [
] Aggressive bullying behaviour
has also been linked to anti- and asocial behaviour in adults.
Some adults who were bullied during childhood can find it difficult
to form functioning adult relationship. Others might see violence
and aggressive behaviour as an acceptable part of adult life."
48. Beatbullying suggests that there may be long-term
effects on children who bully but caution that there is a lack
of research in this area.
However, Professor Smith referred to UK and Norwegian studies
that found a link between bullying and criminal convictions later
in life. Written evidence from the British Psychological Society
"Not many studies have appeared on the effects
of bullying on those who bully. A large study in Finland [
found that children who bully are at an increased risk of depression,
to the same extent as victims of bullying [
] Children who
bully may be at a high risk of criminal convictions in later life:
25% of adults who had been identified by peers at age 8 as 'bullies'
had criminal records, as opposed to 5% who had not been identified
Beatbullying stated that
"in our experience approximately 5-7% of young
bullies are so unreachableso out of control that any programme
of prevention is doomed to failure. Many have significant mental
health issues and anger management issues which need to be dealt
with by mental health professionals and not in schools or the
49. We are concerned that there may be significant
problems for individuals and the community generally if bullying
behaviour which occurs in childhood is not tackled and changed.
There also appears to be a lack of research on how bullying affects
We recommend the Department commissions research into the long-term
effect of bullying on those who are bullied and those who bully
and on effective ways of challenging bullying behaviour. Advice
for schools, including on what services are available for those
bullies whose behaviour cannot be dealt with in a school setting,
should be made available. We urge local authorities to ensure
schools have clear guidance on what services are available to
work with this type of persistent bully and to ensure that young
people in their area who are excluded as a result of bullying
have continuing access to the support necessary to change their