If there are people who consider bullying to be harmless child’s play, they are sorely mistaken. Victims of bullying may suffer from the consequences of this maltreatment throughout their lives. Bullying is “aggressive behavior or intentional harmdoing by peers that is carried out repeatedly and involves an imbalance of power, either actual or perceived, between the victim and the bully” (Wolke & Lereya, 2015, p. 879).
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It is not confined to a particular country since cases of bullying have been reported worldwide (Chervonsky & Hunt, 2018). While bullies usually experience no health or psychological effects of their aggressive behavior, their victims have problems with “health, self-harm and suicide, schooling, employment, and social relationships” (Wolke & Lereya, 2015, p. 879). Neglecting the cases of bullying is a detrimental strategy since it condemns bullying victims to lifelong sufferings.
When children are subject to bullying by their peers, it affects their feelings and evokes negative emotions in the first place. It seems that the way people deal with oppression determines the severity of bullying outcomes. Studies show that victims of bullying often suppress their emotions (Chervonsky & Hunt, 2018). It encourages a perpetrator to keep on with his or her aggressive behavior because the victim does not let him or her feel empathy (Chervonsky & Hunt, 2018).
Consequently, a person subject to bullying is, in some way, stuck in the position of a victim. Since suppression is a common way of regulating emotions in victims, exposure to a large number of negative experiences aggravates adverse effects. According to Chervonsky and Hunt (2018), individuals suppressing their emotions are prone to have less social support and feel isolated from others. Thus, bullying frequently affects those having difficulties with handling their emotions properly and makes the matter even worse. Since victims often cannot cope with the maltreatment that they are exposed to, they develop various psychological problems. Sometimes, they believe that they deserve being bullied or lack the feeling of belonging (Stephens, Cook-Fasano, & Sibbaluca, 2018). Such thoughts may lead them to harm themselves or even to try to commit suicide (Stephens et al., 2018).
Bullied children have difficulties making friends and maintaining good relationships with other people, and in adulthood, they are prone to have no partner (Wolke & Lereya, 2015). They often feel insecure, so they may carry weapons in the hope of protecting themselves (Stephens et al., 2018). Some victims become bullies in response to teasing and subsequently may demonstrate illegal behavior (Klomek, Sourander, & Elonheimo, 2015). Thus, bullying affects victims’ mental state and prevents them from building strong relationships with others.
Internal problems, as well as poor social relationships caused by bullying, often result in negative health outcomes. In the short term, teasing may lead to anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and nightmares (Stephens et al., 2018). Studies were conducted to prove that it was bullying, not any other factors, that caused these problems. Researchers studied monozygotic twins having the only distinction between them: one of them was exposed to bullying, and the other was not (Wolke & Lereya, 2015). Those who were victimized developed the mentioned mental disorders over time, unlike their non-bullied siblings (Wolke & Lereya, 2015).
Moreover, it has been discovered that bullied children tend to develop psychotic experiences, including delusions and hallucinations, by adolescence (Wolke & Lereya, 2015). Consequently, bullying not only fills victims’ lives with negative emotions but also causes them to suffer from mental disorders in adulthood. As people subject to bullying are under continuous strain due to experiencing many negative emotions, it cannot be of consequence to their physical health. Studies show that bullied children more frequently have such problems as stomach aches, headaches, bed-wetting, and poor appetite (Limber, Kowalski, Agatston, & Huynh, 2016).
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Wolke and Lereya (2015) add that bullying victims catch colds and take up smoking more often. In addition, adult people who were subject to teasing earlier in their lives report “poor general health, including more bodily pain, headaches and slower recovery from illnesses” (Wolke & Lereya, 2015, p. 880). This evidence proves that negative emotions and different psychological problems, which are characteristic of bullying victims, cause harm to their physical health.
Poor Academic Achievement
Since bullied children are more liable to illness, it results in missing classes and, consequently, worsening academic performance. However, psychological problems have a greater influence on victims’ success in their studies. As bullying takes place mainly at school, children try to avoid being exposed to their offenders by refusing to attend classes (Chervonsky & Hunt, 2018). When they are present at lessons, they are likely to restrain themselves from participating in classroom activities, which also leads to poor academic achievement (Limber et al., 2016).
Bullying not only hinders schoolchildren from doing their best in their studies but also discourages them from pursuing high education (Chervonsky & Hunt, 2018). Perhaps, it is because they get accustomed to being teased, so they cannot imagine their life within an educational institution without this problem. Thus, bullying is a significant factor influencing students’ academic performance, and teachers should bear it in mind while analyzing the reasons why some children fall behind their peers. If an individual is bullied at school, he or she is at a higher risk of being teased at a high education institution as well.
It has been found that the same students who were subject to bullying in elementary and high school became victims in college (Young-Jones, Fursa, Byrket, & Sly, 2015). It is an important observation since it may help the college staff to prevent bullying by identifying its past victims. Bullied students experience a lack of motivation, as well as higher stress levels and decreased social support (Young-Jones et al., 2015).
Since motivation is essential for mastering the curriculum successfully, the lack of it causes victims of bullying to have lower academic achievement than their non-victimized peers. It may also lead students to a decision to quit their studies (Young-Jones et al., 2015). Consequently, bullying can follow a person throughout his or her schooling and cause poor academic performance.
As victims of bullying have problems with academic performance and sometimes drop out of college, it leads them to have a worse financial situation in adulthood compared to that of their peers. Studies show that people bullied in childhood have difficulties keeping their jobs and tend to live in poverty (Brimblecombe et al., 2018). Both men and women often have lower educational qualifications in middle age due to being bullied in childhood (Brimblecombe et al., 2018). Furthermore, past bullying victims are at a higher risk of being unemployed at the age of 50 than their peers (Brimblecombe et al., 2018).
If they are employed, their earnings are often lower than those of their counterparts (Brimblecombe et al., 2018). Thus, since bullying prevents people from performing well during their studies and distracts their attention from education to internal problems, it results in poor qualifications and the inability to find and keep a good job. Feeling isolated and having difficulties socializing with other people due to exclusion from the community of peers during schooling also contributes to victims’ failures in employment. Health outcomes of bullying are another factor influencing the economic status of victimized individuals. It has been found that people who were bullied in childhood were at a higher risk of being unemployed because of illness or disabilities (Brimblecombe et al., 2018).
Moreover, past victims spend more money on health care services because of mental diseases acquired as a result of bullying (Brimblecombe et al., 2018). Since they have higher expenditures and lower incomes than their non-bullied peers, they sometimes have no savings and property by the age of 50 (Brimblecombe et al., 2018). Consequently, bullying not just causes illnesses in its victims; the developed disorders then lead to employment problems and poor economic situation.
Despite the deplorable and long-lasting consequences of bullying, some people do not consider it a serious problem. In their opinion, children have always been teasing their peers, so there is no point in making a fuss over it. They think that giving monikers, extorting money for lunch, dominating playgrounds, and publishing provocative posts on social networks are innocent pranks that do not deserve much attention from adults. In fact, they are right that the problem of bullying extends back to ancient times.
Wolke and Lereya (2015) argue that it emerged in the course of evolution when stronger individuals dominated others to obtain higher status, as well as more resources and mating opportunities. Hence, it is quite natural that there are bullies who want to assert their power and victims who are unable to reciprocate the maltreatment. However, the fact that the problem exists for a long time does not mean that it should continue to be the usual run of things.
The evidence indicated above suggests that bullying has a wide range of consequences for its victims, following them throughout their lives. If bystanders believe that bullying is insignificant and terminates on its own over time, victims will continue to experience its adverse effects in the future.
In conclusion, bullying is a significant problem because of its continuous detrimental consequences for victimized individuals. At first, it affects victims’ psychological state and makes them feel isolated and oppressed. These negative emotions then lead to the development of various mental disorders and weaken general health. Due to poor social skills and illnesses, bullying victims experience difficulties during their studies.
Since many of them have poor academic performance and sometimes do not finish their education, it causes them to have trouble applying for and keeping a job. Employment problems lead bullying victims to have lower incomes, while health issues make them spend much money on treating their mental disorders. Given the mentioned effects of bullying, it is necessary to handle this phenomenon by supporting victimized schoolchildren and teaching them to address their offenders and regulate their feelings.
Brimblecombe, N., Evans-Lacko, S., Knapp, M., King, D., Takizawa, R., Maughan, B., & Arseneault, L. (2018). Long-term economic impact associated with childhood bullying victimization. Social Science & Medicine, 208, 134-141.
Chervonsky, E., & Hunt, C. (2018). Emotion suppression and reappraisal associated with bullying involvement and other social outcomes in young adults. Social Psychology of Education, 21(4), 849-873.
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Klomek, A. B., Sourander, A., & Elonheimo, H. (2015). Bullying by peers in childhood and effects on psychopathology, suicidality, and criminality in adulthood. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(10), 930-941.
Limber, S. P., Kowalski, R. M., Agatston, P. W., & Huynh, H. V. (2016). Bullying and children with disabilities. In O. Saracho (Ed.), Contemporary perspectives on research on bullying and victimization in early childhood education (pp. 129-155). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Stephens, M. M., Cook-Fasano, H. T., & Sibbaluca, K. (2018). Childhood bullying: Implications for physicians. American Family Physician, 97(3), 187-192.
Wolke, D., & Lereya, S. T. (2015). Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(9), 879-885.
Young-Jones, A., Fursa, S., Byrket, J. S., & Sly, J. S. (2015). Bullying affects more than feelings: The long-term implications of victimization on academic motivation in higher education. Social Psychology of Education, 18(1), 185-200.