Bullies are nothing new. Unfortunately, we have not found a way to eliminate bullying or even decrease its prevalence; in fact, with recent advances in technology and social media, bullies have new platforms and opportunities to spread their cruelty. There are many parents who may be ignorant to the fact that their child is a victim of bullying or even the fact that maybe their child is the bully. Regardless, it is important to understand the effects that bullying can have on your child and how you can get them help.
● According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of students have witnessed bullying at their school.
● A 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the following:
○ 8 out of 10 students have experienced verbal harassment.
○ 4 out of 10 students have experienced physical harassment.
○ 1 out of 5 have been victims of assault based on their sexual orientation.
● 55% of LGBT students have experienced some form of cyber bullying.
● 1 out of 5 students admits to bullying someone else.
● There is more bullying in middle school (grades 6, 7, and 8) than there is in high school.
● Emotional bullying is more prevalent than physical bullying.
Potential Side Effects
● Low self-esteem
● Lack of trust in others
● Anger issues
● Suicidal thoughts
● Health problems
Some of these effects may not reveal themselves until years later. The effects of bullying can cause long term emotional damage. The immediate effects can cause your child to lose focus on school work, not want to play outside or with others, or even cause anxiety issues.
Bullying not only affects the victims, but observers as well; those who witness bullying may experience an increase in stress and anxiety, no longer feeling safe at school. Some may even be tempted to join in on the bullying for fear of being on the receiving end, while others can experience feelings of guilt for not trying to intervene.
How Bullying Affects Bullies
There are a number of reasons why a child may act out by bullying others. Many cases indicate that the bully experiences the same treatment at home, while others suffer from their own insecurities and the inability to act out in a rational manner. Regardless of the reason, there are common traits that can be found in those who bully others. Those who bully others are more likely to:
● Get into frequent fights, often involving physical violence.
● Steal and vandalize others’ property.
● Drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.
● Carry a weapon.
● Receive poor grades.
● Have criminal convictions.
● Be abusive towards romantic partners and children.
Of course, not everyone who experiences bullying (whether victim, bystander, or instigator) suffers from the aforementioned effects; however, it is important to recognize that sometimes it’s difficult to identify a bully or victim. It’s vital that you have talks with your child so that they understand that bullying is wrong, even if you’re the one casually watching. Create an environment at home where there is love and healthy communication. If you suspect your child is suffering from the effects of bullying at school, then consider having them meet with a mental health professional.