The Long-Term Effects of Bullying
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2019, one in every five students reports being bullied. Between males and females, there’s a higher percentage of males reporting being bullied than females.
What is bullying?
Bullying is the systematic use of coercion, force, or threat, either by actions or words, to dominate or intimidate someone.
Bullying can be direct, which may involve physical or verbal acts of aggression such as hitting or name-calling. It can also be indirect which may be in the forms of social exclusion or rumor spreading.
Bullying can have long-term effects
Some people may perceive bullying as a rite of passage but bullying, in any form, is a form of abuse.
It doesn’t just hurt the victim in that very instance, but it can also have lasting effects on the person.
Emotional and Social Impact
Those who are constantly targeted by bullies often find themselves struggling in making friends. Not only do they find it challenging to make friends, but they also struggle in maintaining healthy relationships.
Bullying can significantly impact one’s self-esteem. For example, if one is being constantly called fat or a loser, he/she eventually believes it. This can eventually affect his/her ability to make friends.
Aside from the low self-esteem, the victim may also end up feeling a wide range of emotions – anger, sadness, frustration, helplessness, bitterness, and isolation. To cope up, some victims end up abusing different substances to cover up the pain. Some end up with depression and even consider suicide.
If nothing is done to help a bullied child, he/she may develop what is called “learned helplessness.”
When this child develops this mentality, he/she believes that there’s no way out, that nothing can be done to change the situation.
As he/she reaches adulthood, the history of bullying could still have an impact on his/her self-esteem and ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.
Bullying doesn’t just affect one’s self-esteem; it can also have physical effects.
Those who have been bullied may experience more anxiety and as a result, may get more sick (anxiety can manifest through physical complaints).
Bullying can also worsen some pre-existing conditions such as eczema, a heart condition, and stomach issues.
It is not uncommon for bullied kids to experience difficulties in academic life. In fact, slipping grades is one of the signs that bullied kids manifest.
Because of bullying, the victims may struggle to concentrate in class, forget to do their homework, or skip classes as a way to avoid the bullies
Signs to Watch Out For
The following are warning signs that may indicate that one is affected by bullying:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed personal items (examples: books, clothing, jewelry)
- Frequent stomachache
- Changes in eating habits
- Declining grades
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Sudden loss of friends
- Self-destructive behaviors
What You Can Do To Help a Bullied Child
If your child opens up about being bullied, listen calmly and offer support. Praise your child for doing the right thing (some kids are hesitant to open up about it for fear of the adult’s reaction).
Let your child know that it is not his/her fault and he/she is not alone.
Have someone in the school (principal, school counselor, etc.) know about the situation. Many schools have policies regarding bullying.
If you are concerned about your child’s safety, you may need some help from legal authorities.