Bullying Doesn’t Just Impact the Victim
Understanding the Lasting Impact of Bullying and Putting an End to It
It’s bullying prevention month, so let’s talk about it.
Bullying doesn’t always appear as it does in the movies. There isn’t always an aggressor beating up a kid on the playground. Today’s bullies can hide behind a screen and torment their victims.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines bullying as:
- Unwanted aggressive behavior
- Observed or perceived power imbalance
- Repetition or high likelihood of repetition of bullying behaviors
Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs over the internet. The most common playgrounds for cyberbullying are social media and text messaging. But it can also happen in online chat rooms, message boards, through email, and in online gaming communities. The big thing kids must know is that anything that happens online is around forever. Most information communicated online is permanent and public. This means that what someone posts about another can have lasting damage to the reputation of both the bully and the person bullied. This can impact getting accepted to college, future employment, and beyond.
How Common is Bullying?
Bullying can have drastic and lasting effects on the victim. About 20% of all students aged 12-18 experienced bullying nationwide. That comes to 1 out of every 5 kids. Bullying doesn’t just impact the victim; it affects the person who bullies and those who witness bullying events. And the impacts can have lasting effects long into adulthood. However, some startling statistics are the overall impact of bullying.
How Bullying Impacts the Victim
Bullied kids have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, feelings of sadness, and loneliness. Their eating habits and sleep are often impacted, and many lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.
How Bullying Impacts the Bully
Kids who bully often have a tough road ahead of them. Statistics show that kids who bully often engage in other violent and risky behaviors into adulthood. Some examples include abusing alcohol and drugs, vandalizing property, dropping out of school, and engaging in early sexual activity. These kids are also more likely to have criminal convictions and become abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults.
How Bullying Impacts the Bystander
Witnessing bullying can have lasting effects, too. Kids who witness bullying are more likely to miss or skip school, use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, and have mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The facts are real, parents. What we need to do as a community is stop bullying. The best path toward changing behavior begins at home. It is critical that we, as parents, teach kids what bullying looks like and that it is not acceptable. Kids must learn not to engage in bullying behavior of any kind and, if they witness an event, to be strong enough to speak against it. It takes a lot of guts to say no to a bully. It is scary and intimidating, but it is always the right thing to do. Report bullying behaviors, including cyberbullying, to the school or an adult who can provide support.
If you have questions or concerns about bullying, please get in touch with your child’s pediatric provider. We know you want the best for your child and are here to help support your efforts. You can read more on bullying in another blog we wrote here and here.