There was a time when parents and teachers alike, believed that bullying was simply a natural part of children growing up. The mantra “kids will be kids” was often the cloak that was cast over this issue. For adults to take this approach towards bullying is a grave mistake and a gross underestimation of the negative impact that bullying has on the life of the child being bullied.
There was a period in which bullying was not considered to be associated with school violence. Now that we have a stronger understand of bullying we know that is constitutes a great deal of school violence and that is can lead to higher levels of school violence.
Bullying has a massive negative impact on the child that is bullied, the repercussions are not simply short term, only experienced during childhood, but expand well into the adult years of those that have been victimized.
Bullying is a rather common occurrence. According to a report by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, almost half of all children are bullied at some point during their school years and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.
Bullying can be identified through many behavioral expressions such as physical assault or the threat of physical assault and verbal abuse. Girls are more prone to verbal abuse than physical abuse and this form of bullying is normally directed at another girl. Bullying by girls can cross over into the realm of physical assault and can easily escalate to high levels of violence. Boys tend to bully through physical means.
The advancement of technology has presented multitudinous platforms for bullies to wreak havoc on their victims. Everything from smartphone text messaging, Facebook and twitter post, to YouTube video posts, kids are finding ways to antagonize other kids.
Bullying thrives on dominance and manipulation, normally through imposing fear into the victim through one form of intimidation or another.
Kids that are highly susceptible to bullying are those that are naturally passive, meaning that they look to avoid conflict at all cost. Those that are easily intimidated because of stature or perceived inferiority are susceptible to bullying as well. Children that find it difficult to fit in socially also frequently become the target of bullies.
The thing for parents, teachers and other school personnel to understand is that bullying is not a harmless behavior. This is not one of the times you tell your child or any child to toughen up it will only make your stronger. The psychological and physiological effects of bullying carry both, short term and long term repercussions. These repercussions range in severity but all have negative implications.
As parent, teachers, and community leaders, it is important to apprehend, with some lucidity, the multitudinous effects of bullying.
- Kids that are bullied are more likely to skip school in an effort to avoid having to encounter their nemesis and experience the emotional, psychological and physical effects of being bullied. It is estimated that as many as 160,000 students skip school nationally on any given day out of fear of facing a bully that has, in some way, been terrorizing them.
- Bullied kids are more likely to get sick. Children who are being bullied are more likely to report feeling sick with some common symptoms being sore throat, cough, headache, stomach ache, and stuffy nose. These symptoms are not psychologically manifested, they are very real repercussions produced psychosomatically. Dr. Adrienne Nishina, Assistant Professor of Human Development at UC Davis, explains this physiological process. “Research with youth and adults shows that negative social interactions are experienced as particularly stressful. Stress causes the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol impairs immune system functioning, leaving the individual more vulnerable and less able to combat physical illnesses.”
- Bullied Teens are more likely to use alcohol as a coping mechanism which normally causes the teen to become more aggressive toward others. It is not uncommon for a child that was bullied in middle school or high school to ultimately become a bully later on in the academic process. Many kids that are bullies in college were bullied in middle school and high school.
- People who were bullied as children are more likely to develop psychological issues as adults. Children who were bullied from the 6th-9th grade are more likely to become depressed by the time they reach the age of 23. Also, people who have memories of being teased as a child are more likely to experience depression, pathological perfectionism, social anxiety, and a greater neuroticism in their adult years.
- People who were bullied during their childhood years are more likely to be bullied in the workplace. Unfortunately, many people who were victimized as children in a school environment often find themselves being the victim of workplace bullying as well. If fact, nearly 60% of people that are bullied at work admit to having been bullied as a child.
All of the aforementioned effects of being bullied are serious and carry an immense impact on the life of the one being bullied. There is one final result of bullying that I chose to present last. If for some reason the magnitude and gravity associated with the symptoms and results of being bullied that is listed above has somehow escaped you, maybe this one will convince you that this is a serious issue. Suicide is becoming more and more prevalent in its association with teens that are being bullied.
Some of the very psychological and social issues that make some children more susceptible to bullying are the same issues that make them more susceptible to using suicide as a way of escaping the hell in which they live. It is imperative that those in a position to impact this issue, do so. Everyone from those directly involved, such as parents, teachers and other school officials, to politicians, district attorneys and psychologist.
The ability to perpetuate a society that is functional is inextricably bound to our ability facilitate an environment in which our children can thrive and mature.