The Psychological Effects Of Bullying
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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is not actually true. Any form of bullying, whether it be physical or psychological, has long term effects: low worth, low self esteem, and even posttraumatic stress. Victims of bullying feel helpless, like they lack control of their environment and their feelings. If they feel the bully is in control, their feelings of self worth will decrease dramatically. (Pawlek-Kienlin) These children suffer humiliation regularly and experience loneliness and suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, bullying can effect a students engagement and learning in school. The impact of frequent bullying can accompany these victims well into their adult lives. In any situation where bullying occurs there are two people who are affected psychologically: the bully and the victim. Obviously the more damaging and longest lasting effects come from being bullied but there are anti social behaviors that are linked to bullying itself. Those behaviors include vandalism, skipping and dropping out of school, fighting, shoplifting, and drug and alcohol abuse. It is also estimated that one in four bullies will have a criminal record by the age of 30. (APA) The bullying statistics I have come across are staggering: 90% of students from 4th grade to 8th grade report being victims of a form of bullying, and 87% of students said that school shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who hurt them.” (APA) Take a moment to think about that. Think about the portrayal that is given when it comes to the kids who snap and commit acts of violence at school. They are made out to be monsters, but is that really the case? These are kids who are outcasts from their peers. Often they are victims of bullying and teasing. They are angry, alienated and scared and lash out in violent ways. I’m certainly not saying they are justified in their actions but we need to consider that these are children who have, in their own eyes, been reduced to nothing and have no other options. There are many forms of bullying and those forms make up two groups: physical and emotional. Physical bullying is generally done by boys, and girls are usually more apt to emotional bullying: exclusion, name calling, etc. Both are quite painful but the physical wounds to a resilient body will heal long before the wounds to a young and vulnerable identity. Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable, and effective person. There are two outcomes from viewing yourself as an incapable undesirable individual as a result of bullying. When you are forced, again and again, to contemplate your relative lack of control over the bullying process, you are being set up for Learned Helplessness. Learned Helplessness is a laboratory model of depression in which exposure to a series of adverse situations gives rise to a sense of helplessness or an inability to cope with or devise ways to escape such situations, even when escape is possible. ("Learned Helplessness") So after extended periods of bullying the victim starts to believe he or she is powerless to escape the situation. Again, this why some of these kids react violently. They truly feel that is the only option. In a perfect world we would all possess an unshakable sense of self confidence. Unfortunately, the forming of our identities is a social process, other people contribute to it especially when we are young and haven’t faced many of the life trials that are so vital in the forming of our identities. While developing a sense Learned Helplessness a victim of bullying is also learning that their peers view them as pathetic and weak and by virtue of the way our identities work, the victims begin to think that these things are true. A lot of our self confidence comes from the affirmation of our peers, those we see every...
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2. American Psychological Association, "Bullying." The Psychological Effects OF Bullying. 2008. American Psychological Association. 30 Nov 2008 .
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