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5 Ways To Overcome Bullying Trauma For Teens

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores five practical ways for teens to bounce back from bullying trauma.

“Studies show that bullying is rampant in South African schools. According to research, about 36.3% of students report being involved in bullying, with 19.3% being victims, 8.2% being perpetrators, and 8.7% being both victims and perpetrators (often called bully-victims),” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“This indicates that over one-third of students are affected by bullying in some capacity.”

The Damaging Effects of Bullying on Teenagers

The effects of bullying, whether physical, verbal, or psychological, can be long-lasting, impacting mental, emotional, and physical health.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

One of the most significant impacts of bullying is on the emotional and psychological health of teenagers. Victims of bullying are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Academic Consequences

Bullying can severely affect a teenager’s academic performance, making it difficult for students to concentrate in class. Victims might avoid school altogether to escape bullying, resulting in increased absenteeism.

Physical Health Issues

Victims of bullying may experience headaches, stomachaches, and other stress-related symptoms. In severe cases, the physical toll of bullying can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, cardiovascular issues and injuries that require medical attention.

Social Isolation

Bullying often leads to social isolation. Victims may withdraw from their peers and avoid social events to protect themselves from further harm. This isolation can hinder the development of crucial social skills and lead to loneliness.

Self-Esteem and Identity Issues

The relentless nature of bullying can severely damage a teenager’s self-esteem and sense of identity. Constant negative feedback and ridicule can make victims believe the negative things said about them, leading to low self-worth. This damaged self-esteem can persist into adulthood, affecting personal and professional relationships.

Long-Term Consequences

The effects of bullying extend far beyond the teenage years. Adults who were bullied as teenagers often carry emotional scars into their adult lives. They might experience ongoing mental health issues and have difficulty forming trusting relationships. The trauma of bullying can also affect their professional lives, leading to decreased job satisfaction and performance.

Increased Risk of Self-Harm and Suicide

One of the most tragic consequences of bullying among teens is the increased risk of self-harm and suicide. The feeling of helplessness can lead some teenagers to believe that ending their lives is the only way to escape the pain.

How to bounce back from bullying trauma

Affinity Health offers these helpful tips for teens to recover from bullying trauma.

1. Seek Professional Support

Talking to a therapist or counsellor can provide teens with a safe space to express their feelings and help them develop coping strategies. Many schools offer counselling services that can be a good starting point. Websites and apps offer virtual therapy sessions, making it easier to access help, while local health clinics and community centres often provide mental health services.

2. Build a Support Network

Having a solid support network is essential for overcoming bullying trauma. Friends, family members, teachers, and mentors can offer encouragement, understanding, and companionship.

Sharing feelings with trusted friends and family can alleviate the burden of carrying the trauma alone. Joining clubs, sports teams, or other group activities can help teens make new friends and build a supportive community.

3. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Finding healthy ways to cope with the stress and emotions resulting from bullying is crucial. Effective coping strategies include:


  • Physical Activity: Exercise can reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Creative Outlets: Art, music, writing, and other creative activities can provide an emotional release and a way to express feelings.
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness can help teens stay grounded and manage anxiety.


4. Foster Self-Esteem and Resilience

Building self-esteem and resilience can help teens recover from bullying trauma and become more resistant to future bullying. Encourage teens to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Assisting them in setting and achieving small goals can boost their confidence.

5. Educate and Advocate

Education and advocacy can play a crucial role in overcoming bullying trauma. Understanding bullying and becoming an advocate can empower teens and help create a safer environment for themselves and others.

Educate teens about their rights and the anti-bullying policies at their school or community. Encourage them to speak up against bullying, whether it’s happening to them or others.


Bullying can leave deep emotional scars, but with the proper support and strategies, teens can overcome the trauma and emerge stronger. Seeking professional help, building a support network, developing healthy coping mechanisms, fostering self-esteem and resilience, and engaging in education and advocacy are effective ways to bounce back from bullying. Remember, with time, support, and effort, overcoming bullying trauma is not just possible – it’s achievable.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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