Effects Of Bullying

I am an effect of bullying. I experienced during school and after school bullying from the time I was about 7 to the age of 16. This bullying occurred in one form or another at every school I attended from grammar school through high school. The consequences of said bullying have lasted well into my adult years. I have trouble trusting another’s intentions, I feel that people are out to hurt me for no logical reason, I suffer panic attacks and fear when in a group of people I do not know, and, consequently, I have very few friends among other effects. Following is some information I found at www.stopbullying.gov . I find it disturbing that the trend has grown to such a proportion that there is actually a governmental website devoted to the subject. When I was experiencing bullying growing up it was literally thought of as something to be endured and wasn’t very important in terms of mental and physical health. While reading some of the material I located, I was mildly surprised to find myself thinking back to those days, and identifying with much of what had been written.

Bullying Definition

Bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or a 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.”

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An imbalance of power: Kids who bully use their power ~ such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity ~ to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone verbally or physically, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. (I have experienced all of these at some point in time).

Types Of Bullying

  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    • Teasing
    • Name-calling
    • Inappropriate sexual comments
    • Taunting
    • Threatening to cause harm
  • Social bullying, sometimes called relational bullying, involves:
    • Leaving someone out on purpose
    • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    • Spreading rumors about someone
    • Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person or possessions including:
    • Hitting/kicking/pinching
    • Spitting
    • Tripping/pushing
    • Taking or breaking a person’s things
    • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Where And When Bullying Happens

It can occur either during or after school hours. While most reported bullying occurs within the school building, a significant portion occurs in places like the playground or on the bus. It happens on the way to or from school, in the neighborhood, or (now) on the Internet.

Frequency Of Bullying

There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:

  • The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (the CDC) indicates that, nationwide, about 20% of students grades 9-12 experienced bullying.
  • The 2008-2009 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) found that, nationwide, about 28% of students grades 6-12 experienced bullying.

On average, that is approximately %25 of kids aged 11-17 that have reported bullying. I would like to emphasize the word “reported”. These statistics are a) out of date, and b) the students who have reported bullying, and does not include those who do not tell anyone. That means that, in reality, the number of students being bullied may be higher, and I suspect it is. A number of students may not report bullying for fear of retaliation or simply out of shame. These students are not captured by these studies.

Effects Of Bullying

The effects of bullying both by those being bullied and those who bully others have been linked to many negative outcomes including but not limited to impacts on mental and physical health, substance use and abuse, and suicide. An interesting study conducted by the National Institute for Mental Health highlights some of the long lasting effects of bullying. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2013/bullying-exerts-psychiatric-effects-into-adulthood.shtml

Kids Who Are Bullied

Students who experience bullying at school, after school, in their neighborhoods, or by technological means such as the Internet or texts on their phones are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy or anhedonia, and I would add low self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Health complaints such as frequent headaches and stomachaches, or being too sick to go to school
  • Decreased academic achievement and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip or drop out of school.

A very small proportion of students who are bullied may react in extremely violent ways. In 12 of 15 school shootings in the 1990′s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.

Kids Who Bully Others

Students who are bullies can also continue to engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. They are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and into adulthood
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity (the same could be said for the kids being bullied as a way of “belonging”)
  • Have criminal records and traffic citations as adults
  • Be abusive in romantic or intimate relationships as adults

Bystanders

Children who witness bullying tend to be more likely to:

  • Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
  • Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Miss or skip school

The Relationship Between Bullying And Suicide

The media often link suicide and bullying. However, most kids that are experiencing bullying do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behavior.

Although they are at risk of suicide, other factors must be considered. Depression, problems at home and a history of trauma tend to be better indicators than bullying alone or when combined with bullying. Additionally, specific groups are more at risk for suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, and LCBT youth. The risk is highest when these groups of students are not supported by family, peer groups and schools. Bullying simply makes the problem worse.

Warning Signs And Risk Factors

There are many warning signs that a child is being affected by bullying ~ either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing these warning signs is often the first step in stopping the behavior. Since not all children will report problems with bullying, it is important to talk to kids who are displaying symptoms. Talking to kids can help identify the root of the problem.

Signs A Child Is Being Bullied

First of all, look for changes in the child’s behavior, but also be aware that not all kids will display warning signs. The warning signs include:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches, stomach aches, feeling ill, or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits ~ not eating, or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • A sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feeling helpless or decreased self-esteem/self-worth
  • Self-destructive behaviors ~ running away, harming themselves, or suicidal ideation or talking about suicide

If you notice these any of these warning signs, do not ignore them. Get help right away.

Signs A Child Is Bullying Others

  • Getting into physical and/or verbal fights
  • Having friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Are frequently in trouble at school ~ detention and/or being called to principal’s office
  • Having unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blaming others for their problems
  • Will not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

Why Children Don’t Ask For Help

Statistics from the 2008-2009 School Crime Supplement (see above for reporting agencies) show that only about 1 out of 3 bullying cases is reported to an adult. There are many reasons why kids don’t talk:

  • Kids want to handle it on their own in order to regain a sense of control or they may fear being seen as weak or a “tattle-tale”
  • They may fear backlash from their bullies (this is a very real concern)
  • Bullying is a humiliating experience, and kids may not want adults to know what is happening. They also may fear being punished and/or judged for being “weak”
  • They already feel socially isolated and like nobody can or will understand
  • Kids may fear being rejected by their peers; friends can help protect kids from being bullied and they do not want to lose this protection

Risk Factors

There is no single variable that puts one child at risk for bullying over another. It is a complex mixture of environment, group identification, and others. In general, kids who are at risk of being bullied have one or more of the following:

  • Are perceived as different than their peers such as being over or underweight, not having the latest cool toy or clothes, being new to school among others
  • Are perceived as weak and unable to defend themselves
  • Are depressed, nervous or anxious, and/or have low self-esteem
  • Are less popular than others and have few friends, are socially isolated
  • Do not get along well with other kids, are perceived as annoying or provoking

These are only indicators that a child may be bullied. They may or may not experience bullying as a result of these risk factors.

Children More Likely To Bully Others

In general, there are two types of kids who bully others ~ some are well connected to their peers, have social power, or like to dominate others, and some are isolated from their peer group and may be depressed (in children, depression can be expressed as aggression) or anxious, be less involved in school, or not identify with the feelings of others. They also have other existing factors such as:

  • Aggressive or easily frustrated
  • Have less parental involvement or problems at home
  • Have difficulty following rules
  • View violence in a positive light
  • Have friends who are bullies

Remember that bullies do not need to be bigger or stronger than those they bully. The ability to bully others comes from a real or perceived power imbalance which can come from a number of sources: popularity, strength, cognitive ability, etc. Children who bully also may have a combination of these factors.

Who Is At Risk?

Bullying can happen anywhere, but depending on the environment, some groups of kids may be more at risk. No single factor puts a student or child at risk for bullying or for being bullied by others. The behavior can happen anywhere ~ cities, suburbs, and rural towns. What does seem to increase risk is the environment and/or belonging to certain groups such as ~ LGBT youth, disabled (mentally or developmentally) youth, and socially isolated youth. Recognizing the many warning signs that a child is bullying others or is being bullied is often the first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children will report being bullied or that they themselves are bullying others. Bullying affects everyone involved. There are many negative outcomes of being bullied, being the one doing the bullying, or simply observing bullying behavior. These outcomes may include depression, anxiety issues, substance abuse and suicide. This is why it is important to monitor kids, and ask them if bullying or something else is wrong.

 

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  2. Very informative and well researched post. I am proposing a narcissistic causal basis to bullying in my new book.

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    • That’s very possible. One of the potential reasons given for being a bully was a competitive nature and worry about one’s reputation and/or popularity. I have had experience with Narcissists, worked for a couple, and they definitely have an unhealthy preoccupation with their outward appearance, reputation, popularity, and competitive nature, and they don’t lose gracefully.

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  3. Great points…it is sad when we have government involved as you say but our agency has gone to the Suepreme Court of Canada in Ottawa twice now with other agencies to ask that Cyberbullying be considered illegal. Your post is most informative and important to share. I`m sorry that you are a casuality of this terrible behaviour…and you`re right,it does on into adult life…we just call it harrassment. I try to tell kids who call our helpline that by telling on their friend, they are actually helping their friend learn NOW that this is not only wrong but illegal and as an adult they could actually lose their job; that usually gives a bystander/witness courage to speak out for a friend. Blessings, Cheryl-Lynn

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    • Thank you! Fortunately, as an adult, I have learned how to “disarm” bullies because you are right, their behavior becomes quite illegal once they are adults, and harassment is hard to prove. The behavior isn’t exactly legal when they are kids either, What I found interesting was the National Institute for Mental Health’s finding that the people that suffered the effects of bullying the most into adulthood were not the bullied, not the bullies, but those that were both. That finding surprised me.

      I hope that your Supreme Court does come to find cyber-bullying to be illegal behavior as well. All I had to contend with after school was the telephone, and in the late 70′s through the very late 80′s when all this was happening to me, I could ignore the after hours attempts to bully me by simply not answering the phone. Kids these days cannot get away from it at home, at school, anywhere. The Internet is pervasive and once it’s out there, it does not go away like an unanswered phone call. You can delete from your Facebook page, but people will still have seen it. You can delete, ask that posts be taken down, etc., but people will still have seen it. So, I actually think that bullying is a much more complex and difficult issue than when I was in school.

      Thanks for reading! It got longer than I intended. And, keep encouraging kids to report it. It is important, and as you note may help someone who is bullying others to get some help for their problems. As the NIMH study points out, bullies have a higher than average rate of Anti-social Personality Disorder which is basically a fancy way to say sociopath.

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      • I have spoken to those who bully as well; that’s why I prefer not to call them bullies…we tend to keep them in that category far too long…like the boy in Grade 5 that teachers point fingers at for years and it’s marked in his file…I have heard sad stories of youths who go to school angry and take it out on their peers becasue they are being beat or berated by their parents. Like I tell folks, it is a systemic problem…you can’t just punish the one bullying…get counselling support for both the victim and the one bullying….and many times bystanders are traumatizing watching it daily.

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        • I agree with you on that point. The societies that people have created use labels far too often. Even scientific studies will label a group as victims or victimizers. Even “control” group is a label that to me implies that they are normal and the ones being studied are not.

          Yes, bullying is a systemic problem, and as you pointed out, many kids who do act aggressively towards others do have problems at home. Either they are neglected, overly punished, hit, or maybe they are from single parent homes and the parent just cannot be there as much as they are needed. The same holds true for the ones who have had another child act aggressively toward them.

          I found a lot of overlap in the personalty “profiles” of those kids that are aggressive and those that are on the receiving end, as well as, those who witness it. So, I think your suggestion that all involved need counseling is completely appropriate.

          Now, I am curious about what makes one child aggressive and another passive when there is so much overlap in personality traits.

          This is seriously bringing out the Sociologist in me. That was my major in college with Psychology being my minor, and both subjects have been topics of my writing and interest for many years.

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          • Ahh Sociology was a department I so enjoyed and preferred over Psychology…my majour is Applied Social and Human Sciences…I like the “applied” aspect…learning by doing but we had to apply everything on ourselves first; it was a humbling exprerience and sociology to me was more realistic; I’m not discounting psych but it cannot stand on its own if someone wants to be well trained. And, our department insisted we be in counselling one full year and write a report on our experience or else we could not take the counselling classes.

            It’s varied actually why someone bullies and I can only go by my experience and what youths share. Some youths say they were bullied and so turn it around; some say they find you have to be the Popular guy or the Bad guy…both generates some form of respect (fear) and some stay stuck in that role. I was always the middle of the road of group and found it less stressful. Prevnet.ca is an organization that trained us for anti-bullying and train the Red Cross as well as Scouts Canada…you would love their studies…You might be interested in their research studies as well with Dr. Debra Kepler from York University in Toronto.

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          • I definitely agree with you about psychology. if you do not understand the society in which one functions, you cannot hope to understand their mind. I actually went into Sociology because I had a bad experience with a professor in the psych department who actually called me anal-retentive in front of a class of about 110 stats students. All I did was point out that his standard deviation formula was wrong…. oh well, story of my life. I should go into editing. i can find the missing period or other typo in a 500 page book.

            I would have liked to have had an Applied class or two available to us. Although, I have always been more of a theory person. I like to just let my mind wander and run and hypothesize about reasons why things have become the way they are, the history behind it, and the various theories about how societies function, the infrastructures they build, why one society thrives and another doesn’t. Its like pure math over applied math. Some are good at one, others are good at the other.

            Okay, time for sticky notes. I have to write everything down or I forget. Probably a symptom of ADD. Manic depression with ADD. My brain is constantly bouncing which can be both good and bad. I am rarely bored, but when I am bored, I tend to get depressed. Anyway.

            That is interesting that you were required to spend a year in counseling and write about the experience to be allowed into counseling classes. I think that is an excellent idea! Canada seems to be more progressive and creative in their higher education institutions.

            I have been in counseling for 10+ years, and I have learned a lot about myself; some things I can fix, other things seem pretty well fixed for me. I have no idea where I would even start on writing about my experiences in therapy. They have ranged from full on pathological nervous breakdowns (usually resulting in hospitalization) to sessions where we just BS for half the session before I am ready to speak. Its been a journey, and I feel like maybe I am halfway there.

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          • I admire you for all that you do. You sure are a smart cookie!! I don’t know about Canada being ahead…I went to Concordia University and the programme is not recognized enough…actually and this is in Quebec. But I learned a lot in it…applying theory so by the time we graduate, we know what we are actually doing.:)

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          • I was voted most likely to become a theorist (a crazy one at that :-) ) by my fellow classmates…..they really applied anything, although it really depended on the teacher…..

            Thank you for thinking I am smart…..I have those moments where I do not know if it is intelligence or if I really am just nuts! Everyone I have ever met that I thought was really smart was also really kind of nuts….by-product maybe?

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          • My kids (in their 30′s now) think I’m crazy and I’m damn proud of that!! My mom was too…lol. At my former job, as a personal support worker for seniors/homecare, a nurse said I was “marginal” and like a salamander..I prefer to say eclectic…artistic:).

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          • I personally go with “eccentric” ~ it seems to fit and it describes all forms of weirdness :)

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  4. Reblogged this on Stop the Stigma and commented:
    Bullying doesn`t stop on the school playground, nor in high school…it goes on at work and for many it has lasting effects…an excellent personal account with researched informaton on Bullying…a must read and share some of this with a friend and your child, your teacher, your school committee…

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