Plight of Victims of School Bullying: The Opposite of Well-Being

  • Dan Olweus
  • Kyrre Breivik


A large body of research is presented which shows that the experience of being bullied by peers, as a pure victim or a bully-victim, is strongly and consistently associated with a number of serious mental health problems clearly implying personal distress and the opposite of emotional well-being. The associations are very robust, being documented in a great number of cross-sectional and longitudinal, retrospective, and prospective studies using different sources of data and different kinds of designs. Overall, there are strong indications that such experiences, particularly if more systematic and persistent, very likely lead to or cause the problems described. Emerging evidence suggests that the effects may also comprise important biological consequences such as changed hormone reactivity and altered brain structures. With these facts as a background, we think the most important goal of possible remedial measures is to stop bullying as much as possible and to develop mechanisms to prevent bullying from occurring. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, the OBPP, is developed to meet these goals and has been evaluated in a seven large-scale evaluations with more than 250 schools and 40,000 students over a period of 30 years. Evaluation results have been quite positive, with typical reductions in the levels of bully/victim problems by 35–45% after 8 months of work with the program. Positive long-term effects over 4 years have also been documented. Since negative effects of being bullied often can be long-standing and victims have been shown to be “overconsumers” of society’s health and social support systems, cost-benefit analyses suggest that society can spare as much as two million dollars by preventing the life-course development of just one single “marginalized”/victimized case. And most important, use of a research-based anti-bullying program such as the OBPP will result in reduced personal suffering and increased well-being, that is, will make life safer and happier for large groups of children and youth.


Suicidal Ideation Proactive Aggression Negative Action Bully Victimization Shared Method Variance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uni HealthUni Research and University of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Uni HealthUni ResearchBergenNorway

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