“Learning must be a joyful experience and no learning is possible if a child is afraid of what will happen in school or if she or he experiences violence in or on the way to school,” Chloë Fèvre
School— the building where our young minds are fostered and refined with education, is the same building where we make some of the most important and happy memories that cling to us for our lifetime. But what happens if these memories are not pleasant but devastating, not enjoyable but dreadful? Not many are aware of it, but school experience is a matter of important psychological effect on children.
What is Bullying?
According to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: “unwanted, intentional, repetitive, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”
How many are bullied?
Globally, bullying has become a pervasive problem in schools. The National Center for Education Statistics in 2019 reports that one in five students ages 12 through 18 are being bullied in U.S. schools.
According to estimates compiled by UNESCO, approximately one student out of every three is subjected to bullying while attending school.
Approximately 56% of pupils have reported having personal experience witnessing some form of bullying at school.
Characteristics of Bullying:
Bullying is a serious issue in schools among peers, but every conflict, fight, or argument is not considered bullying. Bullying has some characteristics which must be present
- It is an intentional aggressive attempt to hurt someone.
- The aggressive behavior is repeated over time.
- The bully has more power than the one who is being bullied.
Types of Bullying:
There are four types of bullying
- Physical bullying is the use of physical activities such as punching, kicking, or pushing. It is more common among boys
- Verbal bullying or psychological bullying involves verbal abuse like calling names, shouting, or taunting.
- Relational or social bullying is the act of harassing someone personally or professionally, such as by making false accusations against them or excluding them from social gatherings. Females experience it more frequently.
- Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is hurting someone by using electronic devices such as computers or cell phones. Studies show that cyberbullying is more prevalent nowadays.
Who is at risk?
- Elementary and middle school students are more in danger of being physically bullied than students of high school.
- Students with learning disabilities like speech impairment, ADHD, or medical conditions that affect their physical appearance like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy are more vulnerable to bullying.
- Students who stutter during speech or are overweight or from low socioeconomic status are also at risk of being bullied.
- The most common form of bullying in school is related to racism, sexism, and religion.
Psychological Effects of Bullying
Bullying is not just a thing to be ignored easily. It is a serious issue, and it has serious consequences. It can deteriorate the quality of life, academics, mental health, and physical health of the victim. Bullying can have negative short-term and long-term psychological effects on the victim.
Short term Effect of Bullying
Students who are bullied are afraid to go to school. They lose interest and show poor performance. They are more likely to prefer to take my online class for me or there is a possibility that they can leave formal education in higher school.
Other Psychological issues include fear, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, sleep disturbance, and starting to lose interest in activities that they enjoyed previously.
Long-term Effects of Bullying
Studies show that if a child is bullied, it has a long-lasting impact on his adult life. If he or she is not treated, they cannot lead a normal life. He may suffer from unstable relationships, chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inferiority complex, obesity, and many more.
Can Bullying Lead to Suicide?
Students who are bullied at school are at risk of suicide, but it is not as simple as we think that victims will commit suicide. Rather, the situation depends upon multiple factors.
As we discussed earlier, bullying may lead to many psychological problems like feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, depression, or low self-esteem. These problems may act as a contributing factor to suicidal thoughts. In addition, if the victim did not get any support from his parents, friends, or school or has any past trauma history, the risk of committing suicide increases.
Role of Parents and Teachers
The worst thing about bullying is that they damage one’s self-esteem and self-worth.
The victim is in a situation of helplessness and hopelessness. In this scenario, the role of parents and teachers is very important to recover and build their self-confidence. Following are some points that help to recover and build their confidence
- Engage in healthy activities
- Engage in discussion to enhance your sense of self-worth.
- Make them rethink their negative thoughts in light of the good alternatives..
- Help them to socialize
- Kind with them
- Take help from a therapist if needed
Who are the bullies?
It is difficult to show sympathy toward the bullies, but in reality, there are reasons behind this behavior. According to a psychologist, students involved in bullying are non-confident children, and they feel better when others look beneath them.
Many studies show that students who are engaged in bullying are subjected to family violence or are not in a healthy relationship with their parents.
Other factors associated with bullies are
- They are violent
- Aggressive in nature
- think negative about others
- Not care about other emotions and feeling
They are also at risk of short-term and long-term psychological and emotional problems as the children they victimize.
To sum up.
In school, learning must be an enjoyable experience for the students. Education institutions should not accept any form of violence, such as bullying or harassment, because learning is impossible if a child is terrified of what will happen in class.
Bullying is a serious issue, and it must be handled with wisdom, and proper policies should be made in school to protect children.