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The Long Term Effects of Bullying

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Is your child being bullied or bullying others? The American Justice Department reports that one out of every four children will be bullied sometime during their adolescence. (bullyingstatistics.org.)

With busy schedules and scattered brains, it is possible to overlook what a child or someone close to you might be enduring at school, extracurricular activities or even online. But what does bullying stem from? What are the long-term effects? And, what can people do to help stop it?

Who are the bullies?

Research found that children, who are aggressive or easily frustrated, have issues at home, are overly concerned with popularity or just have friends who bully others, are more likely to bully other students,” said Dr. Adrienne Duke, an Alabama Extension specialist in adolescent development.

Ask yourself how your child’s life is at home, and how it is possibly affecting them outside of the home. It is common to see childhood bullying might as a trivial stage that all children go through at some point, however, there are serious ramifications that can easily stem from it.

“Children who exhibit bullying behaviors early, are likely to continue bullying others as they get older. In fact, research suggests that there is a link between school bullying and aggressive or violent behaviors later in life,” said Duke.

According to Dr. Duke, if a child continues to bully others, they may experience many of the negative consequences described above such as criminal activity, dropping out of school, drug and alcohol problems, depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

Why are some children bullied and others not?

Although people try to create profiles for children who are victimized, there is no single factor, but there are many reasons children are targeted, said Duke. Most of the time, children are targeted because they are perceived as different from other children in some way, she said.

Children with physical, intellectual or emotional disabilities often are easily targeted. However, children who bully can also target children with health needs such as food allergies, according to stopbullying.gov.

Often the signs of a child being bullied are masked or hidden by a child because of embarrassment or fear of speaking up. Create a safe environment to talk to a child and listen to them. This action makes it easier for the child to say that  he or she is being bullied. Then, one can take the proper steps toward handling the issue.

What are some long-term effects on children who are bullied?

Being bullied at a young age can have an negative effect well into adulthood. According to Duke, if the bullying experiences were traumatic, the memory of those experiences can trigger negative emotions. Many cases of adult, and even teen suicide, stem from bullying, according to bullyingstatistics.org. Along with negative emotional responses, children can also engage in externalizing behaviors that are not only dangerous to themselves, but to others.

“A shocking statistic from the 1990s is that 12 of 15 school shooting cases involved shooters who had a history of being bullied,”  said Duke.

What can bystanders do?

Parents can encourage their children to be active when it comes to standing up to bullying. There are several actions  witnesses can take to become allies to children who are being bullied.  Duke said, three safe ways to step in and help someone are:

  • Get the person being bullied away from the situation.
  • Get others who don’t support the bullying to step in with you; when you have more than one person taking a stand, you can make a big impact.
  • Tell an adult immediately when you see bullying occurring so they can step in.

What is the healing process?

The most common and effective treatment for the long-term effects of childhood bullying is therapy, Dr. Duke added.

Most schools offer free counselors to students who suffer from ongoing bullying or were bullied in the past.

Childhood bullying is any unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time.  Some examples include, making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally or exclusion from a group on purpose.

If you know someone who is bullying or being bullied, bring attention to the issue.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

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