October 5th is known as Bullying Prevention Day. So this week I will be sharing about bullying and its connection to mental health.
Today I would like to share about the psychological effects of bullying on children.
Every time you hear that bullying has happened to a child or teenager, there is a feeling of sadness that pierces your chest. Moreover, if the perpetrators are still young, it is impossible to imagine the psychological impact experienced by the victim. The bully may even have a problem with him/ herself.
Psychological Effects of Bullying on Children –
Short and Long Term Effects
Bullying is a global problem. About 1 of 4 students in America reported experiencing bullying at school. In Indonesia, according to the Indonesian Child Protection Commission, in 2015 there were about 79 cases of bullying that occurred in schools. These facts show that bullying is still a challenge that every child must face.
On one hand, this disgraceful behavior led the authorities to tighten the rules against perpetrators. On the other hand, bullying has been seen as a normal phase that seems to have to be passed when growing up. However, sometimes we forget that the impact of bullying is so influential on a person’s future.
The short-term impact of bullying is clear. Especially if the bullying happens physically. Bruises and bleeding can be seen immediately and become a weapon to make the perpetrator apologize. But what about the psychological effects? Crying after being bullied is only a temporary condition. Based on the results of valid research, years, and even decades later, mental wounds are difficult to heal.
Both the short and long term, the impact of bullying needs to be known by everyone, especially parents, and teachers.
What is bullying?
Bullying is an act of oppression carried out by an individual until the victim has difficulty defending himself. Perpetrators are usually stronger than victims, so bullying will be repeated.
This also distinguishes bullying from fighting, in which both parties have relatively equal strength.
Bullying can be done in various ways, ranging from physical (hitting, pushing, pinching, kicking), in the form of words (name ridicule, threatening, cursing, insulting, sneering, blaspheming, slandering), and sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, people are still often indifferent to bullying and perceive it as part of socialization. Some even believe that every child must go through bullying in order to have a strong mentality when he grows up.
Not surprisingly, there was a time when the school had hazing activities to welcome new students. In fact, this view is not true. Constant bullying affects the mental health of the child.
The short term impact of bullying
The most recognizable effects of bullying are those that appear in the short term. As victims, both adults and children can experience the things below as a result of bullying by the people in their environment.
1. Psychological problems
In addition, bullied victims can also experience psychosomatic symptoms, which make psychological problems trigger physical health problems. This applies to both adults and children. For example, when it’s time to go to school, the child will feel stomachache and headaches, even though physically there is nothing wrong with his or her body. This condition is called a psychosomatic symptom.
2. Sleep disturbances
The impact of bullying that can also be seen is sleep disturbances. Victims of bullying often find it difficult to sleep well. Even though you can sleep, sometimes you get nightmares.
The impact of bullying on this one, not only can approach the minds of adults. Even children and teenagers who are victims of bullying are at risk of having thoughts of ending their lives. Not infrequently there are reports of incidents of school-aged children who die as a result of committing suicide after being bullied by their classmates.
4. Cannot mingle with the people around you
Children and adults who experience bullying are indirectly placed in a lower social status than their peers. This makes bully victims often feel lonely, neglected and leads to a decrease in self-esteem.
5. Impaired performance
Children who are bullied tend to have difficulty with their learning achievement. They will find it difficult to concentrate in class, often miss school, and are not included in activities at school.
The impact of bullying is often felt by victims, even though it is decades after the incident took place. The long-term impact of bullying is rarely seen, but it is precisely what makes victims feel more tortured.
British researchers conducted research on the effects of bullying for up to 40 years after the incident. As a result, there are several long-term impacts felt by victims, such as the following:
- The health conditions of the bullied victims, who are now 50 years old, tend to be worse mentally and physically.
- Their cognitive function is lower than that of their peers who have never been bullied.
- The quality of life and life satisfaction levels of bullied victims also tend to be lower than their peers who have never been bullied.
The impact of bullying is also not always predictable. Children who are victims of bullying may not show signs of being disturbed by this treatment. But later in life, these children are at higher risk of developing depressive mental disorders and receiving psychiatric care.
Other evidence of the long-term impact of bullying is also presented by the results of a study on 1,420 children aged 9-16 years who had been victims of bullying. Experts examined their mental state 4-6 times over a period of several years, which resulted in children who had been bullied more frequently with various types of anxiety disorders and panic disorders.
In addition, the trauma caused by bullying received as a child can also change the structure of the brain which will later affect the ability to make correct decisions.
Also, a study conducted by the University of Warwick in England collaborated with the Duke University found that bullying is worse than adult verbal abuse.
Finally, children who have been bullied in their childhood tend to experience difficulties to be in society when growing up, because:
- It is more difficult to find a job or keep the job you have
- It’s hard to focus on one thing
- Difficulty interacting socially with other people
- Tend to be more susceptible to disease.
Notes from WeStressFree about Psychological Effects of Bullying on Children
The impact of bullying can be felt immediately or in the decades after. The short-term effects that are felt include psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and decreased performance at school and work.
Meanwhile, in the long term, children who were victims of bullying tend to find it difficult to find work, cannot interact socially, and are more prone to psychological disorders and are likely to need help from a psychiatrist more often.
If you or your child is a victim of bullying, don’t be afraid to take the necessary steps to feel better. Therapy sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist can be the first step to improving the quality of your child’s life.
Seeing how bad the impact of bullying is on a child’s mental health, of course you want to make sure your child is free from bullying. Some following things you can do to prevent the bad effects of bullying:
Recognize the symptoms or signs
It is important for parents to know the symptoms or signs of bullying on your child. Children who experience bullying will show a significant change in attitude. They may appear more moody or reserved, or he may also be more aggressive at home. Some have sleeping difficulties, fear of going to school, etc.
Please act wisely
Try to listen to the child and show empathy. After that, teach children the right way to deal with bullying by boldly expressing their opinions, having the courage to speak up, and reporting to the teacher about what happened.
Report to the school
Apart from teaching children how to deal with bullying, you still need to report and discuss with the school. Even the slightest act of bullying must be known by the school. Thus, parents and the school can find solutions to these problems together.
The impact of bullying can be very big and bad for the mental health of children, not just one or two years, even decades. So, identify the signs of a child who is being bullied, and he or she faces it with courage and confidence.
I will leave you with this interesting video from TEDx Talk:
I hope this post is helpful. Please share and leave a comment down below if you have tips in avoiding bullying.
Stay safe, happy, and healthy, Friends!
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Thank you for reading today’s topic: Psychological effects of bullying on children