The epidemic that continues to plaque today’s school age children in the educational system and over the Internet is bullying. The way children engage with each other in social environments as boys and girls has changed over time. Within the school system they have overlooked bullying and have called hazing or normal age appropriate behavior. Children growing up into there adolescents and into there teens, often engage in various behaviors. They begin to connect with peers, join different activities and make long time friends into passing acquaintances within schools. When children begin to enter there own identify they begin to find the identity that best fits themselves this can range from, jocks, band geeks, drama nerds, along with these identities they begin to find there own sexual identity and will fall into the identity of homosexual, bi-sexual, lesbian or gay. As youth begin to make these self-discoveries the bullying behavior begins as well. In this paper, the question is how does bullying lead to mental health issues and what are the results of bullying on youth?
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When we hear of adults often discuss bullying it in a manner as “kids will be kids” or “it’s all part of growing up.” Bullying has become a real part of growing up in today’s society with youth. This has become a cruel reality that youth have to endure such a traumatic event in there life. This should not be a part of growing up for children in either their school or on social media. Bullying has received a great deal of attention as it has continued to be seen in the educational system. There has been a rise in research on how it is affecting youth’s mental health and has caused an increase suicide and school shootings. The argument is school bullying is a serious and pervasive issue within the school age system and has lead to the continuous mental health issues of youth. Bullying accounts for increased absenteeism with approximately 30 percent of children in a single semester. According to Garrett (2010) the School Crime Supplement (SCS), and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), in a report collected in a student survey between the ages of 12 through 18, it was found in 2007, nearly 32 percent of students reported to being bullied in school with in the school year. They compared the data to collected in 2007 to a similar survey in 2005 and found a lower percentage of students that reported victimization from bullying. In comparing the data there was a difference of 28.1 percent of students being bully victims. The data suggest between these years there was an increase of bullying incidents reported.
Bullying and its Types
There are various types of bullying that is experienced throughout a youths day, it can range from physical bullying, verbal bullying and cyber-bullying. What is not considered is when a child is a witness to bullying it can affect them just as much as if they were witness to domestic violence between there parents in their homes. Physical bullying has been identified as hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing or damaging property (Canty et al, 2016). Physical bullying is short term or long term and can have various effects on it victims.
Verbal bullying is the type of bullying that includes name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse (Canty et al, 2016). While verbal bullying can seem to be harmless it have great effects on a child’s self-esteem. In this type of bullying it can begin to have a lasting affecting the individual target. Verbal bullying is also connected to social bullying, it is also known as covert bullying, and this type of bullying will include lying and spreading rumors about the targeted victim. One aspect is playing a nasty joke, that causes embarrassment and humiliation, and unkindly mimicking the victim (Baldry, 2003, Pg. 715). Social bullying is a type of bullying that is difficult to recognize. This type of bullying is carried out behind the back of the victim. It is focused on the victim’s social reputation and is intended to cause a humiliation on the social reputation.
Connection to D.V
What we see is there is a similarity to bullying and domestic violence in the homes of children. Domestic violence has been defined as “a pattern of assaultive or coercive behaviors that include physical, sexual, or psychological attacks on another individual” (Schechter, 2000, pg. 122). The U.S Department of Justice (2017) defines domestic violence, as an abusive behavior that occurs between two individuals in a relationship, in which one individual uses to obtain dominates of power and control over their intimate partner. Just as children witness physical abuse in there home, they will witness emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is a form of abuse that is used to distort the victim’s sense of self-worth. It is the unrelenting verbal assault that is focused on humiliation and belittling of the victim.
In an article by Chang and Lee (2010) they examined the connection between cyber-bullying, school bullying, and how it can affect adolescents and their mental health. They found the behaviors of students on the Internet involved cyber bullying or student being victims of cyber-bullying as a result of peers. There study focused on the victim’s sexual identity, their academic performance, and poverty levels along with how bullying resulted in a lower self-esteem. They also reviewed the rise of depression of the student victims. Cheng and Lee concluded by saying, “Both cyber bullying and school bullying and/or victimization experiences were independently associated with increased depression”.
Bullying victim’s often look for ways to deal with the daily torment that they endure. Some victim’s that suffer will find the only way they know how to deal with it as a way to cope. According to an article by Claes et al., on bullying and victimization. They found there are clear correlations between bullying and the victimization of non-suicidal self-injury. They looked how many victims of bullying will engage in behaviors that are considered to be non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). This refers to actions performed by the victims to deliberately utilized behaviors that are known as self-harm. The main mental health issue identified in there study was identified as depressive mood disorder. They discussed how bullying resulted in an increase risk of engaging in non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors. These are actions that the victim will direct on one’s own body tissue without suicidal intent. This can be scratching, cutting, hitting, and burning oneself (Claes et al, 2015).
The National Institute of Children’s Health and Human Development can be compared to these findings in a study conducted on bullying. The survey conduced by the NICHD in 2001. They found approximately 77% of students have experienced bullying in a form of mentally, verbally and physically. In the study 14% of the victims often suffered a severely as an effect of the bullying. It was also found that 1 in 5 to teens admitted to being a victim of bullying or being a participant in bullying a victim. It was identified that students missed one day of school in a method to avoid their bully. 43% of the teens feared their bully with find and harass them in the bathroom. More violence occurs on a school campus than on the way home from school According to the study, “Statistics have shown someone is bullied every seven seconds, adult’s will intervene 4 percent of the time, compared to a peer intervening 11% of the time and no one will intervene 85% of the time” (NICHD 2001).
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According to Merrick and Srabstein (2013) bullying is can be linked to a continuous experience that can have both concurrent and future psychiatric disorders, that are everlasting into adulthood. They have found that ADHD and depression are common factors as well as anxiety amongst bullies and victims. It was discussed how young males are more likely to be at risk of anxiety and male bullies are likely to have personality disorders. It is discussed that male bullies and victims may suffer from a personality disorder and anxiety and can increase the risk. Victims have been found to be shy, silent, fearful, anxious, physically weak, insecure or in some way ‘different’, to cry easily and to have low self esteem (7-11), while bullies are reported to be domineering towards their peers, hostile, disruptive, and aggressive, to feel little empathy with victims and to have difficulties in concentration (Merrick & Srabstein, 2013). They believed a commonality between bully and victim is the inability to engage I emotion regulations. There are issues that seem to be predisposed as targets of bullies, such as stuttering, being overweight and obesity (Merrick & Srabstein, 2013). In a study conducted by Merrick and Srabstein, they found the correlation between both physical and psychological symptoms; they stated (2013) there is a known relationship between physical and psychological, in the physical symptoms ranging from headaches, stomachaches, backache, and dizziness. The symptoms of psychological being a bad temper, feeling nervous, and sleeping difficulties, all will be signs that a child is being bullied.
The factor is how do we address the constant rise of bullying within the school system to fully address the bullying that occurs in the daily life of children. There needs to be a micro approach towards bullying in the school system. The use of mediation between the bully and there victim on why he is choosing to victimize the individual they are targeting. An open communication with the parent of the bully and school officials to discuss the child’s behaviors. In a mezzo approach have a wide outreach to discuss the need to lower bullying in schools and in the community. Review bullying incidents reported to collect data in the school districts. Training school teachers and school officials on how to raise awareness and empathy for victims. Have parents included in school meetings and assemblies to understand the effects of bullying. On a macro level, have individuals that can address bullying on school settings. By understanding the severity of bullying and making a community wide awareness can deter bullying.
In looking at bullying and how it is connected to anxiety, depression, self-image and suicide. It seems that a way to work with the bully or the victim is the use of Cognitive behavioral therapy. The use of this approach helps the individual look at there own feelings and behaviors. Often the bully is not aware of how they feel about themselves and bullying there peer is a way to cope with there negative feelings to increase there own self-worth and self-confidence. The way they feel about themselves will increase the negative behaviors. In working with the bully victim, it can help with increasing self-confidence and decrease the self-doubt in a way to give them the power to feel in control. CBT can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and if identified post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the bullying.
- Baldry, A., (2003). Bullying in School and Exposure to Domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 713-732.
- Chang, F., Lee, C (2013). Relationships Among Cyber bullying, School bullying, and Mental Health in Taiwanese Adolescents. Journal Of School Health, 83(6), 454-462.
- Claes, L., Luyckx, K., Baetens, I., Ven, M., & Witteman, C. (2015). Bullying and Victimization, Depressive Mood, and Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Parental Support. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 24(11), 3363-3371.
- Garrett, R. (2010). STOP bullying in its tracks. Law Enforcement Technology, 37(9), 34-38.
- Merrick, J., & Srabstein, J. C. (2013). Bullying : A Public Health Concern. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
- Schechter, S., & Edelson, J. (2000). Effective intervention in domestic violence and child maltreatment cases: Guidelines for policy and practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 122–123.