When we think about school, we think about the learning process, bonding with classmates, maintaining meaningful relationships, and achieving academic goals.
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What often remains out of the frame of this idealistic picture is ostracizing, insults, and pushes that are still way too common in school environments. Bullying is an umbrella term for intentional, targeted aggression within a social group and a pervasive issue that is difficult to get read of.
Bullying is a big deal: 49 out of 50 US states have anti-bullying legislation in one form or another.
Yet, many people still miss the point: they do not see bullying as that big of a problem.
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I am here to tell you that bullying is much more insidious than it seems: it can ruin a person’s life.
Firstly, bullying leads to poor academic performance: after all, how no student can properly concentrate on the learning process if they are constantly attacked and distracted.
Al-Raqqad et al. have shown that middle schoolers both in private and governmental schools show much worse results if they are bullied (46). The teachers that participated in the study also reported that bullied children were not doing great at school. Their results were declining, and they were withdrawing from actively participating in class.
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It is readily imaginable how the effect of bullying on a person’s learning capacity can persist into high school and college and compromise their prospects.
However, it is not only the cognitive capacity of students that we should be caring about.
Bullying takes an enormous toll on a person’s mental well-being.
Sigurdson et al. discovered that as many as 20% of bullied children had developed psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression (42). What is even worse is that the victims of bullying were likely to suffer from severe cases of those disorders. On top of that, the effects of bullying have proven to be quite persistent. According to Sigurdson, a significant part of study participants still had mental issues past their teenage years.
Depression and anxiety are extremely disruptive to a person’s life. They break their natural rhythm, can be debilitating, and prevent a person from achieving their life goals.
It is easy to see how hurtful bullying can be for the one who is being bullied. However, as it turns out, the aggressors are also at risk of having adverse life outcomes.
Bullying is a complex issue because it affects both sides: the victims and aggressors, even though the latter’s issues are often ignored.
Nierenberg shows that former bullies often have to get medical treatment for their psychiatric issues later in life. Besides, bullies often have low empathy: a skill that people need in life to bond and maintain relationships.
Bullying needs to be stopped not only for the sake of saving the victim but also to prevent the aggressor from developing unhealthy behavioral patterns.
To conclude, the existing scientific evidence suggests that bullying leads to many negative outcomes for those affected.
For this reason, we need to take action at all levels: governments, schools, and individuals should all take part in the healing process. Bullying should be prevented, or should it occur, reported, and taken care of as soon as possible.
An issue as serious as bullying should not be taken lightly: it is the youth’s quality of life and future perspectives that are at the stake.
Al-Raqqad, Hana Khaled, et al. “The Impact of School Bullying on Students’ Academic Achievement from Teachers Point of View.” International Education Studies, vol. 10, no. 6, 2017, pp. 44-50.
Nierenberg, Carl. Childhood Bullying Can Have Lasting Effects on Mental Health. 2015. Web.
Sigurdson, Johannes Foss, et al. “The Long-Term Effects of Being Bullied or a Bully in Adolescence on Externalizing and Internalizing Mental Health Problems in Adulthood.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, vol. 9, no. 1, 2015, p. 42.
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