Research reveals extent of bullying’s impact on education and careers


Bullying at school can affect academic and career prospects long into adulthood, according to a report.

Almost 30 per cent of adults who were bullied at schools said it had a negative impact on their career prospects, research from Oxford Open Learning Trust has found.

About 15 per cent of 2,305 adults polled by YouGov said they were bullied on at least one occasion while at school, and more than four out of 10 said they were bullied several times.

The Impact of Bullying Report examined what long-term effects abuse and violence at school had on people.

When asked about the impact of bullying, 37 per cent of respondents claimed being bullied had had a negative impact on their academic performance and 64 per cent said it affected their self-esteem.

Furthermore, 36 per cent said they found it harder to make friends, and 27 per cent said it had an adverse effect on their mental health. One in eight said being bullied affected their physical health, and 16 per cent said it made them distrustful of people in authority.

The study was commissioned following anecdotal evidence showing that learners were enrolling on courses with the Oxford Open Learning Trust to complete education that had been cut short due to bullying.

Of those polled, 30 per cent said they turned to family for help with being bullied, 18 per cent sought help from friends, and 16 per cent spoke to teachers. 

However, more than half – 51 per cent – of respondents said they never sought support and just one per sent said they turned to an independent advice service or charity for support. 

Younger people were more likely to say they had sought support for bullying (64 per cent), and women (49 per cent) were also more likely than men (43 per cent) to seek support for bullying. 

The study also examined who the bullies were. Respondents said they were mostly bullied by their peers – nearly nine in 10 who had been bullied said it came from children at their school who weren’t their friends. However, over a quarter said they had been bullied by friends at some point, while 14 per cent said they had experienced bullying by their teachers.

Greg Smith, head of operations at Oxford Open Learning Trust, said the big shock in the survey was how many felt bullying had affected their academic performance.

“Bullying isn’t something that happens and then you shrug it off, it is something which follows you throughout your life,” he said.

You can download the full report at



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