It’s not just psychological. Bullying has physical impacts as well.
According to a study by Duke University (see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140512154854.htm) – “bullied children may experience chronic, systemic inflammation that persists into adulthood, while bullies may actually reap health benefits of increasing their social status through bullying.”
Basically, being bullied is stressful and traumatic. This stress is manifested in the body as proteins made by the body that both the brain and body uses. Apparently, being bullied increases the level of C reactive protein which not only impacts how your brain functions (anxiety and depression), but also can impact your metabolism and your cardiovascular health.
Bullying or having increased social status reduced your levels of C Reactive. These increases and decreases and seen over the life of the individual. This means that being bullied in childhood puts you at greater risk for mental and physical health problems later in life.
This study has 3 basic implications. First, that bullying is a serious health problem that if eliminated could save us and society a lot of problems.
Second, having secure social status or control in life is highly beneficial to an individual as this reduces our stress and so reduces our future mental and physical health problems. So, how can we help kids feel more secure and help them form and establish good friendships so that they get the benefits of this social security without the harmful effects of bullying.
Finally, bullying really is about control. Control helps us feel less stressed and that’s why people bully. It gives them control. If we truly want to eradicate bullying, we have to stop rewarding bullies and we do that by not allowing them to get their way when they bully. That sort of abusive behavior should result in a loss of control instead of an increase in it. This is obviously easier said than done, but if we are committed to it – we as a society should be able to change the social norms so that we don’t allow bullies to do so much damage.