Bruises, scratches, nightmares, anxiety, and lying to stay home from school; this is the reality of many children across the world who are victims of bullying. Today, bullies can target kids in school, at the park, and through text messages, tweets, and Facebook – virtually anywhere. According to a University of California Los Angeles psychology study, 83% of girls and 79% of boys reported being bullied in person or through the Internet. Since the abuse can come through many forms, children are being exposed to it all the time and developing serious physical and mental issues that can last a lifetime.
Physical Impact on Victims
Physical bullying can take the form of hitting, fighting, pushing, slapping, and sexual assault, all of which physically harm the victim. The stress caused by dealing with a bully also triggers other physical responses within a body which can lead to chronic headaches, digestion problems, muscle pains, weight fluctuations, a worsened immune system, and potentially heart disease.
Mental Impact on Victims
People used to say “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” This is not true. Words can and do hurt. Both physical and emotional bullying attack the inside of a person just as much as the outside. Bullying victims are more likely than non-victims to experience depression and anxiety, substance abuse, low self-esteem, and nightmares. According to a Yale University study, victims of bullying are also 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.
Impact on Other Party Members
Bullying does not only impact the victim, but it has lasting adverse effects on every party involved. Whether a kid is a victim, a bystander, or a bully, they are all suffering.
The Bully: When bullying goes unpunished, the bully’s behavior never stops. 40% of boys identified as bullies continued the trend towards violence at the age of 30. These bullies also tend to have criminal convictions and substance abuse issues as adults, and be more abusive towards their spouse and children.
The Bystander: According to the Pew Internet Research Center, 90% of teens have witnessed cyberbullying online and 90% of these teens did nothing to stop the behavior. Due to the heavy role the Internet plays in our everyday lives, bullies are gaining a larger audience. These spectators, however, eventually end up becoming the victim. Bystanders of bullying also develop mental issues stemming from the guilt of not standing up. These issues include anxiety, depression, and alcohol or drug abuse.
Making Bullying a Thing of the Past
To bring an end to bullying there has to be an acceptance of the problem and people need to talk about it. The earlier intervention can be the better and if bullying can be handled before it becomes a serious issue, the related health problems and concerns can be avoided.
Anti-bullying policies are essential but it is also essential that parents encourage an open and supportive environment at home, to give children the confidence they need to speak out if something is wrong.
https://www.udemy.com/stopbullyingwithscience/ (Free Course)
Jenny Holt is a freelance writer. She loves nothing more than getting away from it and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she’s left the corporate world behind. She has carved out a niche in the HR and business sector with a real focus and passion for advocacy, employee rights and discrimination issues, after experiencing bullying in the workplace herself.
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