Counselors need to understand the severe impact bullying has on its victims. By understanding what bullying is, it will help to remove fear, improve self-esteem, improve grades, and in worse case scenarios, save lives of our young adolescences. I am going to take a look at the components, and types of bullying. How does bullying affect self-esteem? What are the gender and sexual orientation influences and the effect of family interactions? Bullying is a situation where someone feels that they have the power over another, and they abuse that power. As a result, they feel helpless, they feel powerless, and they lose sight of their identity and somebody’s trying to take it from them. The bully is taking over the essence of who another person is or attempting to, and it’s repeated, so it’s not like it’s a one shot thing. It’s a repeated assault on who you are as a person. Bullying and aggression seem to suggest that, whatever its meaning, bullies seem to be deficient in cognitions, emotions, and behaviors concerning ethical issues and morality. (Menesini, Nocentini, & Camodeca, 2013) Bullies are competent in moral judgments and understanding, but they fail in moral compassion and sensibility. They show moral disengagement mechanisms, egocentric reasoning, low levels of moral motivations, and of shame and guilt. (Menesini, Nocentini, & Camodeca, 2013) There are four types of bullying: verbal, social, physical, and cyber. Verbal bullying consists of name-calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, and using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks. Verbal bullying is the most common form of bullying. Social bullying involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships some examples are: telling others not to be someone friends, spreading rumors, embarrassing them, or leaving them out of things on purpose. Physical bullying includes but not limited to hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying. Cyberbullying includes any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium such as text messages, picture/video clip via mobile phone cameras, phone call via mobile phones, e-mail, chat-rooms, instant messaging (IM), and via websites. School bullying statistics in the United States show that about one in four kids in the U.S. is bullied on a regular basis. Between cyber bullying and bullying at school, the school bullying statistics illustrate a huge problem with bullying and the American school system. (www.bullyingstatistics.org, 2013) Gay teens and young adults face a much higher risk of experiencing bullying than their counterparts do, with the rate more than tripled for lesbians. Sexual minority youth drawn from gay, lesbian, and bisexual settings demonstrate GLBT youths high levels of victimization, such as verbal insults to physical assaults. Bullying and harassment can cause negative effects on the development and mental health of GLBT students, such as anxiety and depression, relationship issues, low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide. They are at greater risk of physical assault than other children and youth. Counselors who are working with gay and bisexual kids should really be asking them about their experiences with violence and bullying and asking how they’re doing with these experiences, and if there is anything that we can do to support them. Children who are bullied sometimes suffer academically, because they are in fear of going to school where the source of their stress resides. Being bullied affects the self-esteem of the victim who might have low self-esteem issues already. It may be that the experience of being victimized decreases one’s self-esteem, or that those who have low self-esteem are more likely to be targeted as victims. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010) Bullying affects the way children form relationships as adolescents and adults, and it can also lead to substance abuse issues and depression. If a child is a victim of bullying and has developed low self-esteem, then he or she might eventually experience isolation as well. You will notice this when he or she becomes less socially active. For fear or being bullied, a child might choose to stay away from any social gatherings or might prefer to stay home instead to watch TV or surf the web. It's also probable that he or she will start showing dislike towards going to school. It is common for children who are bullied to be victims of bullying in their adult life since their self-esteem has been devalued. They cannot stop being a victim. Bullying can cause emotional and behavioral changes that lead to problems at home. Some common signs and symptoms experienced by families who are affected by bullying are secrecy, irritability, withdrawal, lying, lack of trust, self-doubt, anxiety, and over protectiveness. Children often become secretive at home. Secrecy can be difficult for parents to experience because they may imagine a range of horrible causes for changes in their child. Being regularly criticized and ridiculed by bullies lead to the child to overreacting to innocent comments made by family members at home. Some children might isolate themselves, slowly losing the quality of family relationships. Children sometimes feel ashamed worrying that it’s their fault. A child might start to lie why they ditched school. The child may feel painfully alienated. Lack of trust can create a serious rift in the family that can linger even after the bullying has been resolved. Failure to empathize with the child’s emotional anguish can make them doubt their perception of reality. When someone is bullied, their pervasive feelings of tension can lead to social anxiety. Some parents will fear for their child’s safety so excessively that their parenting style becomes oppressive and limiting. It is important for families to engage positive preventive strategies. Open communication amongst all family members is one of the best strategies in preventing the effects of bullying. Children should feel free to discuss their struggles openly with bullying. Children need to view their parents as trusted friends. Children should also learn good coping skills to help deal with bullying situations and to learn when to tell an adult of what is happening then they will experience less emotional trauma in the event a bully tries to victimize them. I have discussed why bullying is an issue to study in human services, the four types of bullying behavior, how gender and sexual orientation influence styles of bullying, how self-esteem affects bullying, and how family interactions are affected by bullying. Bullying can cause children serious psychological or even physical problems. School officials may be able to offset some of the negative effects of bullying by working to develop high self-esteem in students. Many districts have begun to implement programming that seeks to bolster the self-worth of children. (Patchin & Hinduja, 2010) It is our job as human service professionals to encourage strong individuals to stop and think about a person's situation and refrain from abusing others due to the psychological damage they may inflict.
Menesini, E., Nocentini, A., & Camodeca, M. (March 2013). Morality, values, traditional bullying, and cyberbullying in adolescence. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 1-14. Patchin, J., & Hinduja, S. (Dec 2010). Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem. Journal of School Health, 8(12), 614-621. www.bullyingstatistics.org. (2013). Bullying Statistics. Retrieved from http://bullyingstatistics.org