Bullying is prevalent in our contemporary society. In fact, the majority of individuals have either engaged in bullying, been bullied or witnessed their brothers’ sisters or friends bullied in different areas. From the vantage point of an adult, bullying is a mean spirited and narcissistic behavior characterizing childhood of some individuals. However, some adults do not grow out of the habit of belittling and pushing others around. In as much as defining bullying may look simple as the case of a bigger boy or individual looking down upon the weaker or smaller one, it is more complex than that (Juvonen and Graham, 159). Bullying is a multifaceted behavior that shifts marginally depending on the situation, the people involved, the place, and the time that it takes place. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, it is the unwanted aggression against another individual involving real or perceived power imbalance and that the behavior has the potential of re-occurrence over time (Juvonen and Graham, 175). It means that the bully and the victim understand that the bully holds more power and the bully repeats the aggression or rather their access to the victim is an indication that the behavior may occur anytime in the future. Whereas bullying is perceived as being physical in most instances, it can also occur in a quiet and covert through gossip or the internet leading to emotional damage (Juvonen and Graham, 179). The aggression can be emotional which is very detrimental to the individuals as well. The research below is an account of bullying, the types, causes, and symptoms, long-term and short-term effects.
There are three types of bullying. The first type is the physical bullying. It is common among the school-aged children (Stuart and Frank, 30). Physical bullying involves hurting an individuals’ body or possession. It includes the acts of kicking, spitting, taking, or breaking a person’s items, making mean or rude gestures, pushing or shoving an individual among others. The second type of bullying is the social bullying that involves the emotional and relational attack on an individual. It involves hurting a person’s relationships or reputation as well. It may take the form of leaving some people out of important things on purpose, social segregation by making others not relate to the individual, spreading rumors, and embarrassing the victim in public (Keelan, Schenk, McNally and Fremouw, 1338). The emotional or social bullying may be through the internet conventionally referred to as cyber bullying that is rampant in the current era of technology. The third type of bullying is the verbal harassment that involves the writing or saying mean things. It may include teasing, making inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, threatening to cause harm and name-calling. It may use the internet as a means to bully.
It may be difficult in most cases for parents or adults to know whether an individual is being bullied. Mostly the victims do not want to talk about it and hence remains silent and therefore, there is a need to look out for the symptoms of bullying in a child or other individuals. The victim may not tell anyone because; they are afraid of the bullying getting worse or of looking weak and vulnerable. In some cases, the individuals may also feel that it is their fault they are bullied or that they deserve the bullying (Kohut, 70-72). However, some of the signs that a parent may look out for to realize bullying on their child include;
Ø Belongings frequently getting damaged or supposedly lost,
Ø The child may have physical injuries that are unexplained or that the explanation does not match up with the extent or intensity of the bruises,
Ø The child may be afraid of going to school or may develop a sudden negative attitude about their school,
Ø The child may no longer do so well at school,
Ø When a child begins picking behaviors such as stealing money or asking for more money since they may be getting it to give it to the bully,
Ø Some children may indicate some forms of distress, losing their confidence and self-esteem, becoming nervous or withdrawn,
Ø They may also exude problems with eating and also sleeping
Ø The child may also pick the behavior of bullying others to male themselves to feel better. It is even more alarming when a child suddenly begins bullying others at home or school.
It is not possible to foretell who will be bullied based on their age, sex, race, sexual orientation or any other factors. Bullying may occur to individuals in all the categories, and there is not a single combination of traits that guarantees that a person may be bullied. However, those that get bullied exude some common characteristics. The predispositions may include personalities that indicate shyness, caution, introversion, low self-esteem and in anxiety (Cardemil, Alisha, Cardemil, Esteban, O'Donnell and Ellen, 1489). For boys, being small can increase the risk of bullying as well. Males are more likely to face physical intimidation while the girls are at a higher risk of relational bullying involving emotional aggression and electronic bullying. The bullies also share some common trait such as being mean, confrontational, spiteful, and aggressive. The exhibit impulsive behavior in most cases and is manipulative. They may lack the empathy present among other children and may exude the aggression towards adults and the teachers (Brank, Hoetger, Lori, Hazen and Katherine, 113-120).
Effects of bullying
The effects of bullying are felt not just for the victim but also by the bully and the bystander. The victim experiences the first-hand impact of bullying that could damage to their emotional state in the short-term and the long-term. The exposure to the humiliation, social isolation, and hurt may cause them to sink deeper into a world of their own. The bullies also are at risk of short-term and long-term emotional effect as their victims. They usually have problems relating to their peers because they are usually violent, cruel and lack the empathy necessary to form healthy social relationships (Keelan, Schenk, McNally and Fremouw, 1348). They, therefore, may not have many friends. The observers who are the bystanders to bullying are also indirectly affected by the bullying. In fact, the observers play a significant role in the bullying process itself. The observers offer the audience that the bully may be seeking for to engage in the act. The bystander may choose not to do anything in a bullying incident for the fear of bullying as well; others believe that it is not their concern. However, it may have effects on the bystander as they try to repress the acts they see, and some of the bullying incidences may be traumatizing to the individual.
Short-term effects of bullying
In the short-term, bullying may result to psychological issues such as depression, anxiety. Girls may also develop eating disorders. It is a direct result of the physical harm caused by them and the emotional damage that comes with the bullying. The intense fear of victimization and the stigma that is attached to the bullying is what causes the individual to grow restless which may lead to anxiety (Kohut, 83). In extreme cases, the fear may hinder the sleeping patterns of the child where they have nightmares and react in a timid way whenever they see a stimulus that they attach with a then bully. The anxiety may make the child not want to go to school anymore for the fear of meeting the bully. Moreover, the child may decide to remain silent about the bullying that further escalates the problem as the child is not aware of what to do hence getting stressed which may lead to depression with time. They are not able to speak out and say what is happening for the fear of getting victimize further. The threats that may be made by the bully may also make the individual too anxious and fear for their life that they do not speak out.
Bullying may also affect the relationships and social integration with the peers leading to social exclusion. It is because the bullied children are usually timid. They may suffer from low self-esteem and feel that they do not fit in any social position with their peers (Cardemil, Alisha, Cardemil, Esteban, O'Donnell and Ellen, 1500). They, therefore, become lonely and have difficulty forming any social relationships due to the anxiety and the further fear bullying and that they do not deserve to belong to such social groups.
There are also issues that are visible in schools with the academic performance of the victimized individuals going low. The bullied children may find it hard to concentrate in class. They may also skip school due to the fear of the bully. The students may also attend school but then avoid certain areas of the school such as the restrooms and the fields that all form the basis for the healthy learning environment for the student. The consequence is a fall in the academic performance of the victim. At the workplace in a case of workplace bullying, the individual may have a low performance at the workplace as well (Adams, 20).
Suicide and suicide attempts are prevalent among the bullied students (Peart, 26). There is a strong link between suicide and bullying in the United States and other countries. Recent years have witnessed a series of bullying-related suicides and attempted suicides globally. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention indicates that bully victims are at a 2 to 9 times risk of considering suicide than the non-victims. A British study also reported at least 50% of suicides among young people related to bullying (Peart, 26).
Long-term effects of bullying
The short-term psychological effects of bullying may escalate and affect the healthy living of individuals in the end. For example, the short terms effects of depression and anxiety may intensify an individual grows into adolescence and adulthood and become chronic in the later years. The effects affect the person and hinder them from engaging in a full and balanced life. It is because, they may have problems with sleeping, eating, working and exercising. It may lead to even worse psychological issues in the future (Kohut, 102).
The inability to form social relationship may affect the working of an individual in the later years. They may become difficult to employ if they were bullied due to insubordination and inability to relate to other employees due to their aggression (Kohut, 110). The victims may also suffer at the workplace making them even more vulnerable to further bullying at the workplace. They may not be capable of forming social relationships and hence working in teams becomes difficult which is a critical part of the success of an individual at a workplace.
The bullies may grow up to become abusive and violent in the long-term. Surprisingly, a majority of the bullied end up becoming bullies as well which may lead to violence and domestic abuse in the future. It may lead to having broken families and may spill over then violence to their children. Those that were victims while young and never picked the bullying behavior may have their self-image and esteem so damaged that they may not be able to defend or even support their families’ in the future resulting in broken families and divorces.
Bullying causes long-term emotional damage to the individual. It is characteristic of both the bully and the victim since the behavior may dent the self-identity and result to back self-image. For the victim, they may have fear and anxiety throughout their lives that lead to bitterness, anger, and depression in the later life. They may not understand why they had to be the ones noticed and therefore, may have their self-concept severely dented that they may not be able to assert or believe in their capability even in the later life. The bullies, on the other hand, may hate themselves for what they had become and become sorry and filled with guilt. As a result, they may lead to other risky behaviors such as alcoholism and drug abuse to deal with the guilt that further affects their self-image, as they perceive themselves as non-deserving of mercy or forgiveness (Kohut, 127).
In conclusion, bullying is an aggression against an individual that usually results from a perceive power imbalance. It is also a common problem in the contemporary society that is also on the rise. It 's hard to ascertain when an individual is a victim of bullying, but there are characteristics such as withdrawal and other behavioral changes that may indicate a case of bullying. There are also no predetermined features of a bully although they are usually, none-empathetic of the victim and aggressive. There is also the urgent need to address the bullying situation due to the effects that may result to both the victim and the bully. It may lead to emotional, social, and psychological consequences. It is also highly linked with an increased number of suicides among the young people especially with the technological advancements that gave room for cyber bullying (Peart, 27).