Effects of Bullying on Victims’ Behaviour among Girls in Public Secondary Schools in Kajiado West, Kenya

African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 5(2), 2018
Authors: Eucabeth K. Manyibe and Jared Anyona

The Catholic University of Eastern Africa,
P.O. Box 62157 – 00200, Nairobi – Kenya.
Corresponding Author E-mail: eucabethmanyibe@gmail.com

A vast majority of students in the world are experiencing bullying in their schools and this remains a significant problem in the education system. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of bullying on victims’ behavior among girls in public secondary schools in Kajiado West, Kenya. The study adopted a cross sectional survey design. The sample comprised of one hundred and eighteen students from the selected girls’ schools in Kajiado West Sub County. Stratified random sampling procedure was used to arrive at the sample. The study used a questionnaire to collect quantitative data from the students. The validation of research instrument was done by subjecting the items in the questionnaire to a content validity. The reliability of the study was computed with the help of Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) using Cronbach’s alpha. The analysis of data adopted quantitative approach. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.  The study found that bullying had  a number of effects on the victims’ behavior. These included: irritability, poor concentration, poor performance, low self esteem and panic attacks. The study suggests the need to curb bullying issues in schools by coming up with strict measures to enhance learning behavior among students.

Keywords: Students’ bullying, Bullying effects, Students’ performance, Students’ behaviour


In a school setting bullying refers to repeated oppression, either physical or psychological, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group (Rigby, 2006). Bullying behavior is a serious problem among school-age children and adolescents; it has short- and long-term effects on the individual who is bullied, the individual who bullies, the individual who is bullied and bullies others, and the bystander present during the bullying event (National Academies of Sciences, 2016). There are various forms of bullying in a school set up that include: teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting and stealing of property belonging to the victim, or causing a student to be socially isolated through intentional exclusion (Limo, 2015). These manifest through multiple psychological effects on the victim that tampers with their feelings and perceptions toward learning environment. some of these effects include but not limited to feeling irritable, feeling stressed and anxious, panicking, being depressed, and having suicidal thoughts.

Bullying has also affected the victim’s ability and attitude to learn. For instance, Butler (2011) indicated that the victims of bullying develop poor concentration behavior that contribute to their poor academic performance. This results from victim’s pre-occupation with strategies of escaping bullying or ways to cope up with it. Thus, many victims of bullying feel as though they cannot ‘fit in’ or are not accepted in the institution hence they opt to drop out of the school. This is a problem because the victims may lose an opportunity to advance their education that may possibly make a more successful life for them.

Bullying has consequentially resulted to poor inter-personal skills. Victims of bullying tend to be introverted; they prefer being isolated and have a difficult time making friends. For example, anytime someone gets bullied, they develop a strong mistrust to people that  results to isolation and poor social relationships. The short-term effects of bullying can lead to  social isolation, feelings of shame, sleep disturbance, changes in eating habits, low self-esteem, school avoidance, symptoms of anxiety, higher risk of illness and psychosomatic symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, muscle aches, other physical complaints with unknown medical cause) (Kowalski & Robin, 2011). On the hand long-term effects of bullying on the victim can contribute to chronic depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-destructive behavior and difficulty in establishing trust.

In Kenya both physical and psychological abuse are very common (Okwemba, 2018). The report further revealed that  bullying mostly occurs when students are not supervised in the dormitories, playgrounds, corridors and on the way to and from school. As well bullying behavior can take roots when the victims are threatened by the perpetrators if they report the matter to the school administration or the discipline in-charge. According to Farringtonn (1993) most bullies occur among students in the same year or class. Despite the prevalence of bullying in schools in Kenya, little appears to have been done. Thus, this study intends to examine the effect of bullying on a victims’ behavior among girls in public secondary school in Kajiado West, Kenya.


This study adopted cross-sectional survey research design. A cross sectional survey design was found appropriate for getting information at one point in time to describe the current characteristics of the selected samples from each of the participants. The target population comprised of students from form one to form four in the girl schools in Kajado West Sub-county. The Sub County has 27 secondary schools where 16 schools are public school and 11 private as reflected in the Sub County Education Office report of 2018.Both stratified random and simple random sampling procedures was used in the study. For a cross-sectional survey research, a sample of 10% to 20% of population is acceptable (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2009). This study had a sample of one hundred and eighteen students.

In regard to data collection instrument, this study adopted questionnaire as an instrument. The questionnaire was structured based on the main research question. For validity of research instruments, the items in the questionnaire were subjected to content validity. The researcher used split half method where the same instruments were administered to two groups of respondents at the same time. The two tests were taken simultaneously and the results were recorded. The results for the two tests were correlated and the deviations recorded. A Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.84 was obtained through computation with the help of Statistical package for Social Science (SPSS). The tool was considered reliable since it the alpha value falls between the recommended range of 0.7 to 0.9 (Ogula, 2006).

Data was analyzed with the help of SPSS, version 22. Descriptive statistics including percentages and frequencies were used to report the findings. As well the researcher observed the legal and ethical issues in research that include acquiring legal documents from the University and the Ministry and also obtained consent from the respondents before carrying out the study. Further, the principles of confidentiality, anonymity, volunteering, and acknowledging the input of others was observed.


3.1 Demographic characteristics
The researcher sought to establish the demographic characteristics of the study respondents. In regards to age of the students, the average age was 15.53 with the minimum age being 13 and a maximum age being 19. When asked about the population among the students, slightly a above a third (35.3%) of the respondents were in form one and a small number (5.8%) of the respondents indicated they were in from four. In establishing who the student stayed with at home, the majority (75.5%) of the respondents indicated that they stayed with both parents whereas a small number (14.3%) and (10.2%) indicated that they stayed with only their mother and father respectively.

3.2 Effects of Bullying on Victims’ Behaviour among Girls 
This study sought to examine the effects of bullying on victims’ behavior among girls in public secondary school. The extent to which the respondents agree or disagree was weighed through a 5 point Likert scale.  Table 1 summarizes the results obtained from the respondents.


As shown in Table 1, over two thirds (71.3%) of the respondents were in consensus that  they felt irritated when bullied. On whether the respondents felt stressed when bullied, majority (78.2%) of them were in agreement. Another 49.2% of the respondents felt that bullied students had a tendency of developing panic after attacks.

With reference to whether bullying leads to poor concentration during class time among the affected students, 67.8% were of the view that it did. Over a third (38.4%) of respondents further indicated that bullying also led to drop out of school among the affected students.

With reference to whether bullying contributed to poor academic performance, more than half (58.1%) of the respondents were in agreement that it did. Another 60% of the respondents confirmed that bullying developed a sense of lack of interest in personal appearance among the victims. Bullying also as indicated by 66.9% of the respondents led to low self-esteem among the victims.


From the findings, over two thirds (71.3%) of the respondents agreed that they felt irritated when bullied. This finding is in line with the study done by Randall (1997) that found that bullying is seen as a problem for students’ in schools and most people never suspect the range, severity and depth of misery the victims experience daily. According to the findings, majority (78.2%) of them were in agreement that they felt stressed when bullied. This finding concur with the study conducted by Matthew, Newman, George, Holden and Yvon Delville (2005) that suggests, isolation of the victims increases a number of psychological outcomes which leaves the victims suffering from chronic stress.

Nearly half (49.2%) of the respondents felt that bullied students have a tendency of developing panic after attacks.  This was in line with Sherri (2018) who investigated that after prolonged exposure, victims of bullying can develop adverse reactions. Some victims of bullying will experience depression, eating disorders and even thoughts of suicide. As well, another two thirds (67.8%) of them were in opinion that bullying can lead to poor concentration behaviour during class time.  This was in line with Konishi et al. (2014) that found out that bullied students develop fear of coming to school because they feel that they are unsafe thus contributing to poor concentration. On the other hand, slightly over a third (38.4%) of the respondents agreed that that bullying can result to drop out of school among the victims. This finding supported an observation made by Cornell (2010) that indicated, teasing and bullying at the high school level is a noteworthy problem that is connected to school dropout.

More than half (58.1%) of respondents were in agreement that bullying can contribute to poor academic performance. This concur with a study carried out by Cynthia (2014) that established that bullying impact on student’s performance is either short or long term. A study by Butler (2011) conducted a survey study to find out how bullying affected the learning of bullying victims. In the same vein, Butler reported that 45% of girls who were bullied performed poorly in class work than their counterparts.

Slightly more than two thirds (66.9%) of the respondents agreed that bullying led to low self-esteem among the affected students. Victimization decreases one’s self-esteem, and individuals who have low self-esteem are more likely to be targeted as victims (Justin, 2010). This implies that bullying have led to tensions among the victims that can lead to poor concentration in class, school dropout and low self-esteem. This contributes to poor academic performance among the students in girl schools in Kajiado West Sub-county.


Based on the findings of the study, depression, irritability, stress, poor performance and low esteem could be associated with bullying in girls’ public secondary schools in the Kajiado sub-county. Thus, there is need to curb bullying issues in schools by coming up with strict measures so as to enhance learning behavior among students.


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