Bullying is not something new. Children, teens, and youngsters all over the world might have gone through a bullying experience, being either the bully or the one bullied. Unfortunately, it has become a pervasive problem in today’s schools and societies, and parents, psychologists, and teachers are trying to keep it under control.
How can bullying be described? It is a sum of behaviors the bully, meaning the one who feels empowered to have this behavior, does to the ones around him. These behaviors can range from spreading rumors about the one bullied that usually are lies. Then, the colleagues and the ones who know the victim will engage in bullying actions, will laugh at the one bullied, and so on.
Another bullying behavior that can be easily observed is social exclusion. The bully is excluding the victim from the group, making fun of the bullied person, insulting, teasing, or calling the victim names. Usually, those who feel empowered to be bullies have other friends with them that give them power. It is about making fun, insulting, and bullying someone and letting others see. In private, the bullying behavior has no value for the bully.
These are some mild typical behaviors bullies usually have. Sometimes, they go even further and harm the victim, adopting usually dangerous behaviors but that have huge effects. Spitting, pushing, and hitting are just some of the intimidation techniques bullies usually use. They might go even further and destroy something that is the property of the victim or forcing the bullied person to do something that he or she does not want to do.
The range of bullying behaviors is quite wide, and even though bullies adopt mild behaviors, such as spreading rumors or lies about someone, they have consequences and effects. The last years have been marked by a rise of bullying attacks in schools and the rapid growth of technology has created something even more terrible: cyberbullying.
Today’s world is marked by unpredictability and confusion, feelings generated by the global pandemic. In a time where children and youngsters are forced to limit their social interactions with their peers, the rates of cyberbullying are skyrocketing. Cyberbullying behaviors include sharing, posting, or spreading negative content about the victim. The harassment has just moved online these days and the bullying problem has not been yet solved (Cyberbullying statistics).
The causes that make a teenager or child become a bully can be diverse. The main cause is usually a dysfunctional family the child has grown up in. Children are like sponges and their growing and maturing years are very sensitive. If the family is dysfunctional, meaning that there are constant conflicts in the house or one of the parents has addictions, children might become bullies.
However, it is important to note that not all children that grow up in unhealthy environments become bullies. If as a child you witness abusive acts in your family and domestic violence, you might learn that this is how life needs to be. What is common if we look at bullies is the way their family is related to them. If they grew up in families where their needs were not met, where affection is something strange, where parents and bigger brothers used to show their power, children might later become bullies. They will need to have power, so they will exercise it on the ones they find more vulnerable and weaker.
Another cause of bullying is the experience the bully went through. The personal experiences of the bully are the ones that matter, and usually, they were bullied by stepbrothers or sisters, parents, or even neighbors. If the bully was bullied in the past, might try to do it themselves. Why? Because they learn that this is the only way to impose yourself and that violence, whether written, spoken, or physical, can help you do it better.
The way the family is organized and parents respond to the needs of the children is a cause that leads to bullying. In families where parents have an anxious or avoidant attachment style, children do not receive the attention they want. So, bullying can be the means to accomplish this goal: getting attention. Children and teenagers that do this solely for this purpose are usually lonely. They do not have friends and think that bullying is the only way to be acknowledged and get attention in this harsh world. Another cause of the bullying behavior might be the envy that the victim has achieved or has something more than them.
Bullying behavior is widespread in every society and its effects can be devastating. A few years ago, the effects of bullying were not clearly understood. But scientists and psychologists have begun to notice a rise in teenager suicides; at the same time, anxiety and depression disorders are more and more frequent in children and adolescents. More than 50% of U.S. children and teenagers say they have been the victim of bullying at least once in their lives (psychology study).
Bullying has immense negative effects on the emotional and mental health of the victim. These years should be marked by maturity, learning how to cope with your emotions, and how to control them. Those who are bullied might have behavioral and psychological problems if these are not addressed in time and the toxic behavior stopped.
Children and teenagers who are bullied lose their self-esteem and confidence. The words, rumors, and the lies the bully has told them makes them question their value. They might change their way of living just to meet the expectations of the bully and maybe it will stop. Unfortunately, bullied children and adolescents can easily develop anxious and depressive symptoms. Even though there is no clear correlation between bullying and suicide among teenagers, bullied children and teenagers are more prone to committing it.
Suicide is usually linked to more kinds of trauma. However, it is well-known that the rate of suicide among children and teenagers is growing continuously. There are already a few cases of children that committed suicide because they were victims of cyberbullying.
The problem with bullying is that today’s children and teenagers grow up in a society that puts a high emphasis on how you look. This is what social media taught children and teenagers, who spend more time than ever on social media platforms. Some youngsters are even addicted to selfies and show only their perfect face on the internet. Social media and the development of technology has alienated children, keeping them away from the true values.
When all that matters is the number of likes, comments, and endorsements the new photo you post gets, not having your expectations met can be damaging for your self-image. It is thus essential to address the causes of bullying, inform more on its effects, and find solutions to this pervasive problem. These solutions should not focus only on bullies and victims, but also on bystanders. Because they could also become bullies and for the moment, they support bullying even if they are just witnessing it.
Bullying is a problem that can have negative effects on the emotional, cognitive, and mental development of victims and bullies alike. At the same time, it can have devastating effects on their academic life and self-esteem. Usually, bullies come from unhealthy and dysfunctional families where positive emotions, affection, and openness do not find their place..