Investigating Bullying on Teens

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INTRODUCTIONBackground of the Study

Bullying is a significant public health issue that affects many children and teenagers’ lives (Liu et al., 2014). The most widely accepted definition of bullying by policymakers and researchers was proposed by Dan Olweus, who defined bullying as indirect and direct aggression that is (i) purposeful, (ii) repetitive, and (iii) entails a power disparity between the aggressor(s) and the target (Olweus, 1978). According to Ang (2015), teenagers have a high risk of being bullied due to their vulnerability as they cannot fully comprehend the link between their behaviors and consequences.

Bullying can take many different forms, including hostile physical, verbal, and psychological behaviors. It can also include behaviors aimed at disrupting relationships (Hellström & Lundberg, 2020). Bullying is more common in situations where people do not have a say in which group they want to be a part of. This is the situation for teenagers at schools or at home who have siblings confined by people over whom they have no control (Bakar, 2021). Bullies try to exercise their control over all children as they try to form a social network. Those who exhibit an emotional response, such as crying or fleeing, and who have no one to defend them become targets of bullies. Other bullies join in to make fun of the victims, attack them, tease them, or circulate rumors about them (Bakar, 2021).

Bullying can occur both online and offline (Hellström & Lundberg, 2020). Patchin and Hinduja (2015) reveal that with the growing use of the internet as a platform for forming peer relationships, most of the communication and victimization that occurs among children and adolescents remains hidden from the adult world, making the problem more difficult to comprehend. This research paper is devoted to providing a more comprehensive understanding of bullying among teenagers by covering the causes and effects of bullying, as well as the prevention measures for bullying.

Statement of Problem

Bullying is widely acknowledged as a serious public health problem that affects both children and teenagers. Some of the effects of bullying on teenagers include poor mental health, reduced safety, greater unhappiness, and lower educational achievement (Zhu et al., 2021). On the same note, Bradshaw et al. (2017) reveal that cyberbullying among adolescents is regarded as a severe public health issue that is intimately tied to adolescents’ behavior, mental health, and development, despite the fact that it is still a relatively young topic of research. Cyberbullying, one of the most forms of bullying, has increased dramatically in the observed 5-year period (Zhu et al., 2021). The increased use of the internet worldwide, along with the popularity of social media platforms, have contributed significantly towards the increased prevalence of bullying among children and teenagers. As such, researchers must focus sufficient attention on adolescents’ and teenagers’ cyberbullying (Zhu et al., 2021). This study seeks to fill this research gap by exploring the issue of bullying among teenagers, including the causes and effects of bullying among teenagers and practical solutions to minimize bullying among teenagers.

With the increasing prevalence of bullying among children and adolescents, Hellström and Lundberg (2020) urge that the most important thing is what adults can do to help and support young people in minimizing the amount of stress and anxiety they suffer as a result of online and offline victimization. The authors add that adults may be unable to intervene effectively due to a lack of knowledge and awareness of how to minimize it. Therefore, this study uncovers practical means of minimizing bullying among teenagers.

Research Aims and Objectives

Research reveals that bullying is among the most significant factors associated with teen suicide, which is the leading cause of death for youngsters aged between 15 and 24 years (Cuesta et al., 2021). Therefore, much attention must be dedicated to minimizing teens bullying. The primary goal of this study is to explore bullying among teens and uncover the risk factors, causes, and protective factors of bullying on teenagers. The following specific research objectives guide the study.

To determine the risk factors of bullying on teenagers.

To determine the effects of bullying on teenagers.

To uncover practical solutions for minimizing bullying among teenagers.

Research Questions

The following research questions have been formulated from the research aims and objectives.

What are the risk factors of bullying on teenagers?

What are the effects of bullying on teenagers?

What are some of the practical solutions for minimizing bullying among teenagers?


This section presents the review of literature that relates to the study topic. The section aims to provide the researcher with a comprehensive understanding of the research topic. The section is organized into several subsections, with the first section providing a detailed description of the concept of bullying. The second sub-section provides a discussion of the different types of cyberbullying and their different forms.

The Concept of Bullying

Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior characterized by repetition and a power imbalance (Bakar, 2021). On the same note, Capurso et al. (2017) define bullying as repetitive aggressive behavior. Hudson (2018) further defines bullying as hostile conduct that is intentional, willful, discriminatory, and designed to damage and instill fear through threats of more aggression.

According to Bakar (2021), bullying entails a pattern of power abuse in which a person abuses their power on a regular basis. The victim of bullying is unable to defend himself or herself for a variety of reasons, including a lack of physical strength and psychological resilience compared to the bully. Bullying has distinct characteristics, such as the victim’s fear of reporting it, and the majority of the results include anxiety, depression, and the development of low self-esteem in the victim. Victims of bullying are mostly defenseless; hence, other individuals are obligated to help, given that the victim has democratic rights (Bakar, 2021).

Types of Bullying

There are two main types of bullying: traditional and cyberbullying. Traditional bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that is characterized by intentional, deliberate, repetitive, and harmful power abuse against victims who are unable to defend themselves (Bennett, 2013) easily. According to Bennett (2013), traditional bullying occurs in various forms, including verbal, physical, and exclusion bullying. Verbal bullying may be in written or oral form, and it includes calling names, threatening damage, making improper sexual comments, and using abusive words. On the other hand, physical bullying entails kicking, slapping, spitting, pinching, destroying the victim’s goods, unpleasant gestures, and punching (Bennett, 2013). Online bullying, also known as social bullying, involves harming another person’s reputation through the use of social media platforms, phones, or computers. Exclusion bullying arises where one is left out in activities, influencing people against a victim, public disgrace, and propagating false rumors. The most prevalent kind of bullying is verbal, but internet bullying is also on the rise (Bakar, 2021).

On the other hand, cyberbullying refers to harassing or threatening others via the internet (Lindfors et al., 2012). Cyberbullying can also be defined as bullying in cyberspace (Baldry et al., 2015). Capurso et al.(2017) further add that cyberbullying entails the use of electronic devices, digital images or messages, or site posts to a cellular phone. Cyberbullying can take numerous forms: flaming, harassment, cyberstalking, cyberstalking, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, and exclusion. Flaming involves online fights utilizing electronic messages with furious and profane language. On the other hand, harassment entails continuously sending rude, insulting messages. Cyberstalking is persistent severe harassment that involves threats or produces significant fear, while denigration involves propagating stories online and/or sending or uploading gossip about a person to destroy his/her reputation or friendships (Capurso et al., 2017). Impersonation involves pretending to be someone else and sending or uploading something to place that person in difficulty or danger or ruin that person’s reputation or friendships. On the other hand, outing involves sharing another person’s secrets or any embarrassing images or information online, while trickery entails tricking another person into revealing embarrassing information or their secrets ad sharing such information online. Exclusion entails deliberately removing someone from an online group. Emails and chat rooms are the most commonly used tools of cyberbullying (Capurso et al., 2017). When compared to traditional bullying, cyberbullying has several distinct characteristics that may exacerbate its harmful effects, including the difficulty in escaping the bullying, the size of the potential audience, the bully’s anonymity, and the ability to attack at any time and from any location (Lindfors et al., 2012).


This section gives an outline of the research methodology used in this study. There are several concepts presented, including research design, search strategy, and data collection and analysis procedures.

Research Design

A literature-based design was used in this investigation. Notably, literature analysis is used to build arguments based on what a researcher already knows and doesn’t know about a topic (Newman & Gough, 2020). To determine the bullying risk factors, its effects, and prevention strategies, the researcher conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis. Systematic literature review refers to a research method utilized to pinpoint and critically appraise relevant research and collect and critically analyze data from existing studies (Snyder, 2019). Contrary, a meta-analysis involves combining results from different scholars to compare and highlight relationships, patterns, and disagreements that arise in the context of different studies in relation to the same topic (Snyder, 2019).

Search Strategy and Selection Criteria

To find the most relevant publications for review, the researcher searched through reputable databases such as ProQuest, EbscoHost, Sage, Google Scholar, and Science Direct. To identify relevant data sources, several search terms were used. They include: ”Effects of teenagers bullying,” Impact of teenagers bullying,” “Effects of bullying on adolescents,” “risk factors of teenage bullying,” and “protective measures of teenage bullying.” The search results were then narrowed down using Boolean operators like NOT, AND, and OR, as well as truncation and wildcards systems. Also, an ancestry search was utilized to find sources for inclusion. This involved keeping track of any relevant footnote and cited references and including them in the review. The researcher created a set of exclusion and inclusion criteria to find the most relevant and reputable sources of information for the review.

Based on the inclusion criterion, the researcher only reviewed articles on bullying among teenagers/adolescents. Studies that were reviewed were those published in the past ten years to ensure that only up-to-date information was included in the report. Additionally, the researcher only included articles published in English to ensure comprehension of the data sources used. Ony peer-reviewed and scholarly journal articles were included in the study. Furthermore, the researcher included only the publications with free access and those that were available in full text. This was aimed at ensuring that detailed information about the study being reviewed was available. Lastly, the researcher included articles whose topic or abstract had at least one of the search terms. All materials that did not meet the inclusion criteria were excluded.

All of the studies that were regarded as relevant and reputable for this investigation were retrieved for examination after preliminary screening. A data extraction sheet was created that included publication information study parameters such as sample size, location, design, and study outcomes. The risk of bias for the papers chosen for review was determined by concentrating on methodological problems such as the suitability of the research design and if the sample was representative of the population to guarantee the data produced was reliable.

Data Analysis Procedure

To answer the three study questions, the researcher used content and thematic analysis of secondary sources. The researcher began by doing a thematic analysis to compile evidence from multiple data sources. Thematic analysis typically focuses on patterns that lead to the discovery of important themes. The researcher further used content analysis to critically analyze the main themes discovered through thematic analysis. The results are presented and discussed in the next section.


The goal of this study was three-fold. First, the study sought to determine the risk factors of bullying on teenagers. Secondly, the study was aimed to determine the effects of bullying on teenagers. Lastly, the study sought to uncover practical ways of minimizing bullying among teenagers. The study applied secondary data to address the research objectives. This section presents the findings of the study, which was guided by the following research questions.

What are the risk factors of bullying on teenagers?

What are the effects of bullying on teenagers?

What are some of the practical solutions for minimizing bullying among teenagers?

RQ1: What are the risk factors of bullying on teenagers?

The first research question sought to determine the factors that place teenagers at an increased risk of being bullied. Study findings revealed that individual and socio-family-related factors are associated with cyberbullying. Among the personal factors, which are risk factors linked with bullying among teenagers, include gender, age, health conditions, and online behavior. In terms of gender, most studies showcased that females have a higher likelihood of being bullied compared to their male counterparts (Aizenkot & Kashy-Rosenbaum, 2021; Álvarez-García et al., 2018; Tesler et al., 2019; Zhu et al., 2021). However, boys have been found to have a higher likelihood of bullying others.

In terms of age, findings revealed that older teenagers, mostly those above the age of 15 years, are at a greater risk of becoming cyberbullying perpetrators (Álvarez-García et al., 2018). Findings further revealed that teenagers with mental health issues such as sleep deprivation, depression, eating disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have higher risks of being bullies (Zhu et al., 2021). Additionally, findings established that teenagers who spent much of their time on the internet had a higher risk of being bullied (Festl, 2016; Rao et al., 2019; Simsek et al., 2019).

In terms of socio-family-related factors, findings revealed that parental abuse, family dysfunction, parental neglect, communication issues, and inadequate monitoring contribute to an increased risk of being abused (Hong et al., 2018; Katz et al., 2019). Zhu et al. (2021) further added that teenagers who reside in cities have higher chances of being bullied compared to their counterparts who reside in rural areas. Furthermore, research reveals that teenagers whose parents practice authoritarian or over-controlling parenting styles, as well as inharmonious teacher-student relations, are at a higher risk of victimization (Charalampous et al., 2018; Zhu et al., 2021). Cuesta et al. (2021) disclose other predisposing risk factors of bullying, which include parental miscommunication, lack of support, lack of monitoring, mental problems, domestic violence, family dysfunction, and single-parent family.

RQ2: What are the effects of bullying on teenagers?

Findings revealed that bullying on teenagers results in mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep (Moore et al. 2017; Zhu et al., 2021). On the same note, Liu et al. (2014) urge that bullying victimization leads to poorer psychological adjustment. According to Yin et a. (2017), mental health issues resulting from bullying have been proven to have considerable unfavorable consequences on welfare, function, and development in adolescents and are connected with poorer academic achievement, unemployment, poor social functioning, and substance addiction. This detrimental influence can extend well after adolescence, establishing a cycle of continuous dysfunction and loss. Zhu et al. (2021) further add that bullying among teenagers results in lower fluid intelligence, thus limited problem-solving ability. Research also established that bullying increases the risk of illicit drug use two years later (Liu et al., 20214). On a different note, Cuesta et al. (2021) urge that bullying victims tend to be weak or insecure, shy, and emotionally vulnerable, thus making them easy targets for bullies in the future. In one of the materials covered in class, Cook (2005), reveals that individuals who are exposed to childhood trauma experience long-lasting problems that place them at an higher risk of additional trauma exposure.

Other effects of bullying among adolescents, according to Nurlia and Suardiman (2020), include impediment of normal personality growth and personal development within the society, negative social academic, school dropout, and poor academic performance. On a different note, Fullchange and Furlong (2016) reveal that people who have been bullied during their childhood between 7 and 1 years of age experience various diminished quality-of-life outcomes into their adulthood up to when they are 50 years of age. These negative life outcomes include suicidal thoughts, alcohol dependency, poorer general health, depression, psychological distress, reduced cognitive functioning, anxiety disorders, fewer social relationships, lower socio-economic circumstances, and diminished well-being. Alao, in one of the YouTube videos shared as a class reading material, Harris (2015) revealed that childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime.

Bullying is also associated with teenagers’ physical health, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue (Zhou et al., 2017). Bullying was also found to adversely impact the development of personal identity (Salmivalli et al., 2021). Only one positive effect of bullying among teenagers was established. Findings revealed that bullying is linked with increased motivation for higher education (Liu et al., 2014).

RQ3: What are some of the practical solutions for Reducing bullying among teenagers?

Findings revealed that the role of parents is crucial in protecting children against bullying. For instance, open, active communication and parent-child relationship were found to minimize the experiences of cyberbullying and penetration (Zhu et al., 2021). The author further added that parental guidance and monitoring of their children’s online activities and internet use minimizes children’s tendency to engage in some negative activities associated with cyberbullying. The authoritative parental style also assists in protecting youths from cyberbullying. Supporting this statement, Charalampous et al. (2018) urge that authoritative parenting is a protective factor for cyber and conventional forms of bullying. Zhu et al. (2021) further urge that when parental monitoring attains a balance between openness and control, it becomes a significant protective factor against cyberbullying.

The development of school-based programmes also contributes significantly towards minimizing bullying in schools. Schools are recognized as one of the areas where bullying among teens is prevalent. Supporting these findings, Hall (2017) urges that anti-bullying school policies are effective in reducing bullying. Menesini and Salmivalli (2017) further added that school-based programmes for reducing bullying are effective, accounting for about 20-23% decrease in bullying others and a 17-20% decrease for those being bullied. Another practical solution for reducing bullying among teenagers is the implementation of social-emotional learning programs during the adolescence stage. According to Swearer et al. (2017), to effectively combat bullying during teenage, social-emotional learning programs should be focused on restorative practices and positive behavioral development. Also, to minimize bullying in schools, intervention strategies may include expelling and suspending the bullies, teaching respect and empathy to students through classroom lessons, collaborating with parents on student behavior, maintaining constant adult supervision, and training teachers on intervening in bullying cases (Hall, 2017).


This study’s main goal was to determine the risk factors of bullying on teenagers. Findings established that personal factors such as gender, age, health conditions, and online behavior place teenagers at a higher risk of bullying victimization. Besides, socio-family-related factors including parental abuse, family dysfunction, parental neglect, authoritarian parental style, communication issues, inadequate monitoring, parental miscommunication, lack of support, domestic violence, family dysfunction, and single-parent family contribute to increased risk of being abused.

Another goal of the study was to determine the effects of bullying on teenagers. Bullying was found to result in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and loss of sleep. These mental issues were found adversely affect welfare, function, and development in adolescents and are connected with poorer academic achievement, unemployment, poor social functioning, and substance addiction. Furthermore, bullying among teenagers was found to result in lower fluid intelligence, which limits teenagers’ ability to solve problems. Also, bullying on teenagers increases the risk of illicit drugs and leaves bullying victims insecure, shy, and emotionally vulnerable, thus making them easy targets for bullies in the future. Other effects of bullying among adolescents are impediment of normal personality growth and personal development within the society, negative social academic, school dropout, and poor academic performance. Despite the many negative effects of bullying, it was found that bullying increases motivation for higher education.

Lastly, this study sought to uncover practical solutions for reducing bullying among teenagers. Some of the identified interventions for bullying prevention include promotion of open and active communication between teenagers and parents, parental guidance and monitoring of their children’s online activities and internet use, adoption of authoritative parental style, implementation of school-based anti-bullying programs, and implementation of social-emotional learning programs during the adolescence stage. Also, expelling and suspending the bullies, teaching respect and empathy to students through classroom lessons, collaborating with parents on student behavior, maintaining constant adult supervision, and training teachers on intervening in bullying cases can help reduce bullying in schools.

Limitations of the Study

This study was faced with a few limitations. Firstly, the study was limited to the use of secondary data, limiting the researcher from collecting primary data to supplement the findings obtained using secondary data. Also, since the study relied on the researcher for data extraction, analysis, and interpretation, this increased the risk of the researcher’s bias.


Parents are recommended to adopt an authoritative parental style to minimize bullying among teenagers. Also, parents should closely monitor children’s online activities and internet use. Furthermore, parents should openly discuss with their children the issue of bullying and inform them of the bullying preventive interventions. Another pertinent recommendation is that schools establish support groups to equip bullying victims with empowerment skills.

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