A lot is said about the negative impacts of bullying. Bullying can be defined as the scenario where “an individual or a group of people with presumingly more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond.” As bullying increases and develops in many forms, it has escalated its momentum amongst researchers, where findings indicate more risk for depression and anxiety.
Bullying leads to a variety of both short and longer-term effects for both the victim and the bully. It is a destructive element for the teenagers and kids growing up today. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that bullying affects 20% of high school students and cyberbullying effects 16% of such students. This study also highlights a significant number of students between the 12 and 18 age group who report regular bullying on a weekly basis. Other students strongly suggest a significant degree of cyberbullying taking place.
Different people will exhibit various behaviors following bullying, depending on their character traits. Having easier means of bullying people via the internet and social media, it can take place at any time, even beyond school hours and over an extended period of time. The victim may endure social isolation, feelings of shame, trouble with sleeping, less healthy eating habits, lower confidence and self-esteem, fear and avoidance of school, anxiety attacks and even bedwetting. This may also be accompanied by physical effects such as headaches and stomach pain, and plummeting school grades. A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), containing a sample of 2,300 students across eleven middle schools in Los Angeles, found that students who were bullied the most got significantly lower grades than those who weren’t.
Victims of bullying can also experience long-term effects if not treated. Such can include increased risk of destructive behavior, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and attempts, chronic depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and a low degree of general health. This can also be followed by difficulties in building relationships and substance abuse.
Whilst we normally tend to associate bullies with evil beings who deserve to be punished, for the sake of having a better society, we also need to factor in the psychological effects of those inflicting bullying on others. This is due to the fact that when ignoring the bully without helping him, the situation is likely to worsen as time progresses. One of the most obvious effects would be poor school performance due to the increased suspensions, truancy (the act of absenting from school at leisure), difficulty in building and sustaining meaningful social relationships and also substance abuse.
There are also more long-term negative effects for bullies such as a risk of spousal or child abuse, antisocial behavior and lack of employment opportunities.
Needless to say, bullying has dangerous effects for both the bully and his victim. More awareness needs to be raised against the destructive procrastination of dubbing bullying as part of growing up. It requires immediate action and the efforts of schools and families if we are to decrease and eradicate bullying.