In How-To, Wellbeing

The problem with bullying: It affects everyone

Bullying does not take isolated victims. It is like an infection, spreading and growing to infect everyone involved. The person who is being bullied is not the only victim although if that were the case the problem with bullying would be enough. However, those who bully and those who witness it are affected. Parents or loved ones who experience the anguish of seeing their children of people they love become bullies or get bullied. It has a wide, destructive span that touches everyone. Learn more about the problem with Bullying. 

The problem with bullying: A cry for help that often goes unnoticed.

A person who bullies is typically a person who feels out of control and is looking for control in their life. They may feel angry, frustrated or have a poor self-image. Bullying is very rarely the condition. More often than not, it is a symptom.

When we see a child who is a bully, the first thing many people see is a child whose parents failed him. They see a child who is not disciplined, spoiled or inherently cruel. In some cases that is true. But in many more cases, the behavior stems from a need to gain control in some aspect of his or her life.

The problem with bullying: The person being bullied is often not the only victim.

Bullying is never acceptable and it should not be allowed in any form or fashion at school, work, home, anywhere. But when it occurs among children, it should send up some red flags to teachers, coaches and parents. It should be a precursor to examination of the child’s home and school environments.

Often the child doing the bullying is being bullied somewhere else. They may experience it at home, at school, anywhere and they are just perpetuating the action. The problem with bullying is that it is never straightforward. There are rarely any clear cut, simple answers.

The problem with bullying: When a person is bullied.

A person who is bullied often perpetuates the behavior by bullying others. Abuse sets patterns in a person’s psychology that lead them to abuse peers, partners and their own children. It is this pattern of bullying that is so alarming. It is a vicious cycle that can usually be stopped but it has to be recognized first.

Victims of bullying exhibit distinct symptoms. Anxiety and depression top the list. Other emotional symptoms may include loneliness, changes in eating habits, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed and a feeling of being an outcast or not belonging. There can be various health complaints and physical injury. Unexplained bruising or injury should be investigated thoroughly.

Performance declines when a person is abused. A child may experience a decline in his GPA and may even skip class or drop out completely. Adults may miss work far more than normal and may not be productive as they once were.

These signs cannot be ignored. When the bullying begins to creep into a person’s life and affects their quality of life it needs to be stopped. But the trouble with bullying is that no one wants to talk about it.

The problem with bullying: Bullying opens the door to risky and violent behaviors.

Children who bully, are bullied and who witness bullying have higher incidences of drug and alcohol abuse as they reach adolescence and into adulthood. They are more prone to get into fights and engage in other risky behavior such as vandalism and promiscuity at an early age. Many drop out of school.

As adults, these troubled children are more likely to have criminal convictions. They are more likely to be abusive to their spouses, children or romantic partners. The strong influence of bullying leaves the one doing the bullying with unhealed wounds that caused him to bully in the first place and it leaves the one who was bullied to feel inadequate, worthless and fearful. These are all feelings that drive criminal activity and domestic violence.

The problem with bullying: What is the answer?

Bullying can’t be cured overnight, but we need to begin looking at the big picture instead of through the narrow glass of victimhood. The ones being bullied often are not the only victims here and once we start identifying the victims who are acting out as bullies we can begin to curb this plague of our society.

We can identify children who are being abused or who are troubled and get them help at the early stages so that the problems can be addressed before the behavior goes too far and becomes ingrained in the child’s psyche.

The problem with bullying is that we are looking at the narrowest part of the spectrum. There are victims at every stage. But we need to start with the ones who are seeking to do the damage. We need to learn how to identify a child who is troubled, tormented, abused and one who has mental health issues that hinder impulse, compassion and empathy.

We need to work harder because children who experience bullying in any way often become adults who bully.

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