In Bullying Help, Health Professionals

Listing the Effects of Bullying

Understanding the Effects of Bullying

Bullying is a form of abuse that can be represented in various aspects. The most obvious is physical bullying; however, psychological and emotional bullying are equally detrimental. Below is a summary of the short- and long-term effects different types of bullying can have on the child and adolescent, both physically and psychologically. Learn more about Understanding the Effects of Bullying!

Physical effects of bullying

A physical representation of bullying can be seen in the appearance of bodily injuries. These can include:

– bruises
– cuts
– bumps
– burn marks
– missing teeth
– loss of hair (hair may have been pulled out)
– sprained or dislocated joints
– broken or fractured bones
– head injury

One must be aware of these symptoms for they are important to identifying both the short- and long-term effects of bullying.

Short-term Effects of Bullying

Short-term effects with regards to physical bullying may be considered as temporary consequences. However one should always be aware of them as they may have relevance to future psychological disorders or difficulties. The short-term effects would describe the healing process after a beating. It would refer to the body’s natural ability to mend itself following a laceration or bruising. The reduction in a “bump” or re-growth of pulled out hair. A need to wear a wrist-guard after suffering a sprained wrist, or using crutches after enduring broken bones or dislocated joints.

When looking at head injuries, one will recognize a concussion as short-term effects. Initial symptoms of a concussion can be:

– vomiting
– headache
– dizziness
– short-term memory loss and confusion
– numbness
– shock
– anxiety

Long-term Effects of Bullying

The most common long-term effect is that of scarring and damage to physical appearance. This is most distressing for adolescents and will contribute to psychological difficulties. Damage to bones and joints may cause permanent limps, however this is not seen in all individuals. It is common for many who suffer from these symptoms to experience serious orthopaedic difficulties in later life.

Head injuries and head traumas are the most significant factors when looking at the long-term changes in one’s abilities. Head injury refers to blows to the head from outside the skull. It also includes any wounds were the skull is fractured. Head trauma refers to the movement of the brain within the skull. The brain floats within fluid and any severe blows from the outside may cause it to “shake” back and forth in the scalp. This form of abuse is known as Traumatic Brain Injury and can be incorporated as a form of bullying.

Effects of Bullying: Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a head injury or head trauma causes brain dysfunction. The milder cases display only a temporary dysfunction of the brain cells. More profound cases show bruising, tearing, bleeding and other damage. This results in serious complications and/or death.

TBI is caused by a strike to the head. Often damage is restricted to the point of contact, but multiple blows or a severe jolt can cause tearing and/or excessive bruising. A head injury whereby an object penetrates the skull will cause irreversible damage contributing to bleeding in and around the brain.

The symptoms seen will depend on the severity of TBI experienced. Milder cases will show the following:

– loss of consciousness for several seconds to a minute
– mild confusion or daze
– memory problems
– lack of concentration
– headaches
– dizziness
– vomiting
– sensory problems (blurred vision, ringing ears, odd taste in mouth)
– light sensitivity
– mood swings
– depression
– fatigue
– difficulty or excessive sleeping

Moderate and severe cases can include any or all of the milder symptoms as well as the following:

– loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
– extreme confusion
– agitated behavior
– slurred speech
– weakness/numbness in fingers and toes
– inability to wake from sleep
– loss of coordination
– persistent headaches
– persistent vomiting and nausea
– seizures
– dilation of pupils of eyes
– clear fluids draining from nose and/or ears

As TBI identifies dysfunction caused by damage to the brain cells, there is sure to be further long-term effects. The following list details complications which may occur because of either damage to nerve cells, cerebrospinal fluid build-up and/or infections.

– state of coma
– vegetative state
– minimally conscious state
– state of “locked-in syndrome” (aware of surroundings but cannot communicate)
– post-traumatic epilepsy (recurring seizures)
– swelling of the brain
– meningitis
– stroke
– blood clots
– paralysis of facial muscles
– loss of vision
– loss of sense of smell
– swallowing difficulties

In addition to their physical states, individuals with TBI will show long-term impairments in particular areas of functioning. They will show changes in cognition, communication skills, behavior and emotion.

Cognition refers to thinking processes or abilities. If one has experienced a head injury, particularly to the frontal lobe, he/she will show a decline in or loss of the following abilities:

– memory
– judgement
– planning
– concentration
–  learning
– problem solving
– decision making
– organisation
– multi-tasking

Communication refers to an individual’s ability to express themselves and interact with the world. It should be noted that the presence of communication problems contributes greatly to further psychological distress. An individual whom is unable to relay their needs will experience heightened frustration and anxiety. Below is a list of the communication difficulties which may arise in individuals whom have suffered a TBI.

– difficulty understanding speech (forming and expressing words)
– difficulty producing words through speech
– difficulty starting and stopping conversations
– difficulty changing and identifying pitch, tone, and emphasis during speech
– difficulty following conversations (inattention)
– difficulty understanding nonverbal cues
– inability to use required muscles to write words

In addition to one’s thinking processes and communicative abilities, the individual suffering from TBI will show a change in behavior. Research indicates a head injury can produce a change in both behavior and personality. Not all individuals who suffer head trauma will endure a personality change, yet there may be differences in behavior. These are symptoms one should be aware of:

– depression
– anxiety
– fatigue
– mood swings
– irritability
– lack of motivation
– changes in sleeping patterns
– lack of empathy for others
– engaging in risky or aggressive behavior
– change in levels of self-esteem
– difficulty in social settings
– change of social groups
– verbal outbursts
– lack of self-awareness

Neurological disorders

While physical abuse contributes to many psychological disorders, it also plays a part in the development of neurological disorders. While the head injury may not act as the primary cause, it can increase the risk of the individual developing the disorder.

1. Amnesia
Amnesia is defined as the loss of memory due to physical or psychological trauma. There are various types of amnesia but only three are specific to head injury.

Retrograde amnesia is the most well-known type of amnesia. This is where the individual is unable to recall any memories before the onset of amnesia (the injury that cause memory loss). Memories of the primary injury will be either “fuzzy” or forgotten.

Anterograde amnesia is represented by the inability to retain new memories after the onset of amnesia. The individual can make memories but is unable to keep them and thus will forget everything after the injury – a clean slate every day.

Post-traumatic amnesia is a transient state of amnesia. This means it can be either retrograde, anterograde or mixed type. It may also represent as either a temporary state or permanent, meaning it “comes and goes”.

2. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects your memory, thought processing and communication skills. It is most common in old age, however early head trauma can contribute to early onset.

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