The effects of bullying in school are varied and fall into both short-term and long-term impacts. Unfortunately, while short-term effect seems to disappear with quick recovery, long-term, and often mental, injuries can take years and decades to recover from.
Effects of Bullying in School: Suicide
Clearly, the most visible and dramatic result from being bullied is a student’s suicide or taking of his own life. The suicide often comes from being so despondent and depressed, feeling there is no one to get help from, that suicide seems to be the only way to make the pain stop. The suicide often occurs after months and even years of bullying, and it is often a situation where extreme embarrassment and social ridicule have occurred. Multiple stories in Canada and the U.S. involve teen girls suffering for years until their mid-teens and then killing themselves without any warning signs of planning.
The stories of suicide as consequence of bullying in school often differ by gender. Girls are more prone to kill themselves in secret, leaving notes and messages after the fact about all the pain they suffered. Boys are more prone to go out with a blaze of violence, causing harm to anyone resembling their bullies before killing themselves at the end of the rage. The Columbine High School massacre was a classic case of male teen suicide after causing harm to others.
Effects of Bullying in School: Physical Injury
Bullying, particularly of male students but a number of females as well, is often associated with physical injury. Many times the injury occurs as the bullies are roughly restricting or abusing the victim in a manner to cause embarrassment and ridicule. This could be the traditional throwing a student in a trash can or spraying the victim with slimy, messy food product or some other similar action. In the restraint process, the victim could be punched, kicked, roughed up, pushed, or thrown down on the ground, all causing contusions or scratches. While these injuries often heal and disappear within a few days or weeks, the embarrassment and mental harm often last far longer, especially the fear of experiencing the harm again.
Effects of Bullying in School: Mental Injury
Fear, suffering, pain, loss of self-confidence, loss of pride and dignity, depression, irrational thinking, anxiety, and worry are all longer-lasting effects that can come from being bullied. What makes the matter worse for the victim is realizing during the bullying that no one is available or willing to stop the act. It’s often the case that there are witnesses, many sometimes, and yet no one steps in to protect the victim. That realization often kicks in bitterness and resentment from the victim that he or she is alone and facing a foe that outnumbers or outmuscles the victim in every confrontation. It’s a horrible feeling to go home with to then expect to relive again the next day and the day after that.
Where the effects of bullying in school last for an extended period, the mental injuries can be far more deep set and can last for years after the fact. Self-confidence is one of the most damaged areas mentally. Bullying victims often become very insecure, not trusting of people and social contacts. This can make it very hard for victims to network and work with teams and officemates later. They tend to be anti-social and workaholics, avoiding social contact as much as possible. This loss of self-confidence can have a huge negative impact on a person’s ability to be successful in life, especially in terms of trying to land better-paying jobs, getting a promotions or being competitive.
Victims are also prone to suffering from anxiety and depression for months and years after bullying has stopped. The fear of being attacked and humiliated without being able to escape or make it stop can cause a victim to have nightmares, fear going into buildings, avoid talking or expressing vulnerability, and feeling worthless.
Adjustment to new challenges and confrontations in the future can often seem like replays to victims, who may very well go right back to being victims when bullied again. Bullying is not restricted to just the classroom; it can happen in offices as well as in neighborhoods. Victims who always shy away from a perceived threat will often be targeted again by their own reaction and behavior to a new assault or threat.
Bullying’s first and preliminary social impact usually hits the home and family first. Bullied victims often start to shut out the world, seeing their isolation and personal belongings as the only safe place from being attacked. Parents often describe outgoing, vivacious children suddenly changing into depressed or angry people, lashing out at anything or anybody with the smallest provocation. Many parents often associate this change in early teens as just hormones and ignore the change. In fact, it can often be a product of being bullied, and the child is reacting and recovering from the pain suffered earlier in the day.
Grades and academic performance often suffer when a victim is bullied. Learning doesn’t happen automatically for children, and being bullied or walking around school in fear makes it even harder to pay attention in class. As a result, children often put their own safety first, and school becomes a secondary priority. Grades drop, and then the child suffers complaints from parents wondering why. The child feels even worse and the downward spiral continues with the core problem not resolved.
Early Response and Recovery
The last thing a victim from bullying wants to feel like is helpless or broken. Yet most ham-fisted recovery approaches do exactly that; with parents often going from thinking their child is making up stories to now treating their child as cracked crystal on a pedestal. Instead, children victims often just want to get back to having a normal life and forgetting the pain suffered. They want to build their confidence up again, be comfortable trying new challenges, and enjoy being with friends without fear or embarrassment.
It’s often the case that victim students seem to respond and recover faster when removed from the bullying environment and being put into a new place with a clean slate. While this does have the the effect of removing the immediate problem and fear, removal only defers the victim’s fear until a new form of bullying occurs again later on. Then the cycle begins again.
Instead, more effective programs help by teaching the victim that he or she does have options when being bullied on how to make it stop. Victims who learn these tools and begin to implement them often find a strength in confronting fears, finding ways to overcome them completely. These victims then develop self-confidence in their abilities and no longer exhibit vulnerabilities new bullies might target. The cycle is broken and the victim is rarely caught in a compromised situation again.
The effects of bullying in school can be numerous and far reaching. Teens suffering from the effects of bullying in school have demonstrated insomnia, depression, lack of personal hygiene, unwillingness to participate in social activities among other signs. The effects of bullying in school can change lives and even cause the loss of many lives. It is essential for parents, educators and school officials to be aware of the numerous effects of bullying in school and their results. Teaching other members of the community about effects of bullying in school is paramount to saving lives and encouraging kindness and good citizenship between classmates.
One final note, children turning into violent abusive adults have been proven to be one of the direct effects of bullying in school. In other words, if the effects of bullying in school aren’t eliminated, today’s bullying victim will grow up to be an adult bully.
Bullying in school doesn’t end the day that it occurs. Victims can carry physical injuries for days or weeks, and many carry mental luggage for years afterwards. Yet these children don’t want to be treated like sensitive china; they want to get back to normal life as quickly as possible. So recovery programs often need to involve empowerment and defense skills as much as helping children heal.