We’ve all been there. On the playground where one girl pulls another by the hair off the swings and dragging her to the ground or in the lunchroom, when the “mean kid” picks on the youngest child, hitting his tray so all the food spills to the floor or even picking on the smallest student in the class for being stupid.
What is bullying? Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious lasting problems. (Anthes,E. 2010)
Bullying can have a variety of short and long term effects for both the victim and the bully. Bullying is a serious threat to our youth today. According to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC), bullying effects 20% of high school students and cyberbullying affects 16% of high school students. Surveys compiled by the CDC also show that 33% of students ages 12-18 who reported bullying at school and 27% of students ages 12-14 who reported cyberbullying indicated that they were bullied at least once or twice a month. Middle schools reported the highest rate of bullying (25%) at least once a week.
Al children are different and are likely to exhibit a variety of behaviors during or after being bullied by a peer. With the rise of harm from damaged relationships or social status and cyberbullying being easier than ever, it has been noted that bullying can last for longer periods of time before a student will seek help.
In a study conducted in Los Angeles involving 2,300 middle school students in eleven middle schools, it was found that a high level of bullying was associated with lower grades across three years of middle school. Students who were bullied the most performed worse in academics than their peers.
Effects on the bullied victim can include some of the following:
- Social isolation
- Feelings of shame
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in eating habits
- Low self-esteem
- School avoidance
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Higher risk of illness
- Psychosomatic symptoms(stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, other physical complaints with no known medical cause)
- Poor school performance
- Symptoms of depression
- Empathy with the bully can be difficult but its important to remember that most bullies behave in this manner for a reason.
- When the bully receives no help, their behavior will continue and could worsen as time goes on.
- Effects on the bully can include the following:
- Poor school performance (missed school due to being suspended)
- Increased truancy
- Difficulty maintaining social relationships
- Increased risk of substance abuse
On a study conducted by a group of scientists in Norway, they investigated the long-term psychological effects of adolescents. The results of the study show that all the groups involved in bullying and the ones being bullied during their adolescence year’s experienced adverse mental health outcomes in adulthood. While the victims showed a high level of depressive symptoms in adulthood, both of the groups experience an increased risk of psychiatric hospitalization due to mental issues.
- Anthes,E. (2010, November 28) Inside the bullied brain. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/bostonglode/ideas/articles/2010/11/28/inside_the_bullied_brain Dombeck, M. Ph.D. (2012)
- Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention, “Prevent Bullying,” Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/prevent-bullying/index.html.