Bullying can make children miserable and ruin their childhood, but what may not be quite as apparent is that it can also have a lifetime of repercussions.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) is highlighting the fact that bullying limits achievement in many ways, leading to children missing school, failing exams, dropping out of sport, avoiding extra-curricular activities and thus limiting their life choices.

And as research suggests that 46% of children and young people have been bullied at school at some point, bullying is clearly affecting achievement on a huge scale.

The ABA national coordinator, Lauren Seager-Smith, points out that around 16,000 young people aged 11-15 are absent from school at any one time due to bullying.

Government surveys have shown that young bullying victims have significantly lower Key Stage 4 results, says Seager-Smith. The difference is the equivalent of bullied pupils achieving two GCSE grades lower than those who haven't been bullied.

But as well as this being linked to bullying victims missing school, it's been shown that bullying also affects children's ability to participate and concentrate in class, possibly due to them feeling intimidated, or worried about what might happen after school.

Studies suggest that bullying doesn't have to be severe to impact on the way youngsters feel and on their life, says Seager-Smith, who also points out that verbal bullying has greater long-term negative effects on mental health than more serious one-off bullying incidents.

"From that we can see that a negative culture where there's a lot of verbal bullying can have as much of a detrimental effect on wellbeing as more serious incidents, because it's creating a culture where young people feel unsafe" says Seager-Smith.

While children from over-protective homes are more likely to be bullied, most bullying stems from difference, which can be a disability, race, religion, sexuality or special educational needs (SEN). Sadly, eight out of 10 children with SEN or disabilities are severely bullied at school.

"The message to parents is to be vigilant," stresses Seager-Smith, "and know how to spot the signs if your child's being bullied. Be available, talk to your child, and reassure them that it's not their fault. The role of parents is to reinforce the message that all bullying is wrong and you don't have to accept it."