Previous surveys on bullying indicate 70% of middle and high school students experience bullying. Most of us have been bullied. 20-40% report having bullied or been part of bullying during the school year.
First bullying in schools is unacceptable. As a psychologist and former high school teacher, bullying is serious. The difficulty is focusing on children’s social life of rejection by peers, group recognition, few friends, when bullying is aggressive and constant. There is no doubt constant bullying may have a mental health and academically affect children over time.
The research from Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the few longitudinal studies on bullying and mental health. This study is significant in that it followed 4300 children over a five-year period with computer generated questions in the home in 5th, 7th and 10th grade. The results found 30% had been bullied.
This study indicated bullying is more likely to result in deterioration in poor mental health and often leads to poor academic performance in the student bullied.
What is the definition of bullying? As children, we all experience bullying as a normal part of growing up. How often it occurs is part of studies, which define bullying.
The limitation of this study is in the lack of definition for bullying and there is no causal relationship that directly links bullying and mental health problems.
Peer Harassment is an issue. If it is physical contact, it is threatening behavior. If it is verbal only, it is contingent on the child’s perception of the situation of the “bullying” that occurred.
The worst effect is continuous bullying.
As a psychologist, the question arises in regards to the definition of bullying. What is the relationship related to the psychological effect on the child who is being bullied? Could it be the psyche of the victim? Therefore, are esteem, confidence and mental health affected? Does bullying lead to mental health issues, particularly in depression, and suicidal thoughts?
In a normal process of growing up, most of us experience bullying. We all have an experience that we remember and learn from. It stays with us.
Yet, it does not have long-term effects on our mental health and academic achievement. Many normal children learn to find and form their supportive peer groups.
The question is why does bullying for some children have a devastating effect and does not enable them to handle the rite of passage pre-teens go through?
First, there is no profile of who will be a bully. Sometimes they are regular students.
Bullying has become more prevalent over the years. Suicide has occurred in a small minority of those, who are bullied. With the text messages, Facebook and cyber-technology, bullying is a bigger problem. If it becomes personal, threatening and approaches physical abuse it is serious.
This study indicates that continuous bullying may cause serious mental health issues, low esteem, anxiety, depression, and lower academic success in the object of the bullying.
The difficulty is there is no “cause and affect” linkage. The bullying and school climate are linked. It is necessary to continue research and have programs to acknowledge the seriousness of bullying, while developing clearer definitions and defined psychological aspects of what, how and why bullying leads to overwhelming behaviors on those being bullied.