Every time I think of bullying I get images of junior high. Being called names, pushed around during recess, or teased on the school bus. Adults just simply say “it’s just kids being kids,” and thinking it minor incident and short-term consequences. However, this is not just an issue of childhood. There has several research studies that the effects of bullying can persist into adulthood, affecting both the victim and the bully, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
Just think about it the very act of bullying is dangerous, produces strong feelings of fear, shame embarrassment, and guilt. Bullies have to use threats to keep their victim quite, the same way abusers silence their targets.
Research has shown, even short-term effects of bullying are likely to exhibit some of the following symptoms; unhappy in school, becomes withdrawn, increased anxiety and depression.
There are some serious long-term consequences if the bullying continues for a prolonged period of time. Here are some of the effects; greater risk of depression, lower self-esteem, loss of confidence, problems with family, difficulty in maintaining a stable relationship, problems with alcohol and drugs, and self-destructive behaviors. Many of these symptoms are the same as those seen in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders.
Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have found a strong connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children. They found most of the test subjects had thoughts of suicide, homicidal thoughts and difficulty relating to people and family. But what they found is that the effects of bullying aren’t just limited to the victims, however – they have found that six out of ten kids identified as bullies in middle school are convicted of a crime by the time they reach 24. What was most disturbing was that children whose teachers reported severe persistent bullying at 7, 11 and 16 have more than double the risk of chronic widespread pain in adulthood compared with children without behavior problems.
Compounding the issue of bullying is cyberbullying, which has emerged in the past decade. It’s estimated that about 10% of adolescents in grades 7-9 are victims of internet bullying. This is a major issue because the victim is never left along – the abuse continues during morning, noon and night. Victims can be continuously bullied via SMS and websites and once posted the insults can be extremely difficult to remove and finding the person behind the bullying is often difficult to identify.
Psychologists believe that it’s important to understand how bullying affects people in adulthood and it’s vital to understand that even when we turn 18 and leave school we don’t leave all these experiences behind us. Instead, we tend to carry them with us, affecting almost every area of our lives.