In one point of history, not too long ago, bullying was considered normal in schools and was just considered a part of growing up. A little teasing and an occasional fight is what turned a boy into a man. However, bullying has now become a major problem in childhood, especially within schools and more research is being done on what effects it has on the development of the child for both the person who is the bully and the victim of such bullying.
The current paper will discuss the profile of the typical bully as well as the victim, how a victim reacts to bullying, as well as what are the short and long term effects of bullying on the child using recently published research articles. It is important to note however that with changes in ours and future generations as well as advances in technology, the methods and complications of bullying can and may very well change. Bullying and How it Affects the Development of Children
In one point of history, not too long ago, bullying was more of a concept than a problem that existed throughout schools and childhood play. Teasing and the occasional fight to solve problems were seen as normal in childhood and were part of the growing up process. However, in the early eighties, public policy began to change and bullying started to become recognized as a problem after three Norwegian boys committed suicide due to bullying (Ma et al. , 2001). What is bullying?
Smokowski and Kopasz (2005) describe bullying as a form of aggression in which one or more children intend to hard or disturb another child who is perceived as being unable to defend himself or herself. Pepler et al. (2006) defines bullying as negative actions that can be physical or verbal that have hostile intent, is repeated over time, and involves a power differential between the bully and the victim. Smokowski and Kopasz (2005) go onto say that bullying behaviours include, but are not limited to, name calling, physically assaulting, threatening, stealing, vandalizing, slandering, excluding, and taunting.
Ma et al. , (2001) give us a very detailed definition that says “bullying is repeated attacks – physical, psychological, social, or verbal – by those in a position of power, which is formally or situationally defined, on those who are powerless to resist, with the intention of causing distress for their own gain and gratification. ” (p. 2). There are both characteristics of a bully that may incline them more to harass others as well as characteristics of a person who is bullied that may make them bigger targets to the bully. Pepler et al. 2006) explains that the power that bullies hold over others can come from individual characteristics that the bully possesses such as superior size, strength, or age, knowledge of other’s vulnerabilities, as well as position in a social group such as high school status or by membership in a group of peers who support bullying. Bullies are said to have certain characteristics. Bernstain & Watson (1997) describe that bullies are typically older male children and tend to have little empathy for peers. The bully usually values violence and is aggressive towards parents, teachers, and peers.
They also tend to be impulsive and exhibit a strong need to dominate others. Compared to victims, bullies usually have little of the anxiety and insecurity that the victims have and think very highly of themselves. Pepler et al. (2006) tell us that bullying usually occurs in an effort to make the bully more popular and to dominate within the peer group. Successful bullies have sound social cognition and mind skills to manipulate and organize victims and often inflict suffering in a subtle but damaging way to avoid being detected as a bully (Ma et al. , 2001). Ma et al. 2001) also mention that many bullies show various examples of anti-social behaviour such as smoking, drug, or alcohol use, cheating on tests, weapon possession, and many times have very little adult supervision. Bullying can lead to long-term problems for the bully themselves as well as their victim. Many bullies experience mental health difficulties such as attention-deficit disorder, depression, oppositional-conduct disorder, and personality defects (Smokoski & Kopasz, 2005). Many bullies are also identified to engage in frequent excessive drinking and other substance use that extends into adulthood.
Smokoski & Kopasz (2005) tell us that many bullies underachieve in school and later perform below potential in employment settings. The biggest possible consequence identified is that studies have show that by age 30, bullies were likely to have more criminal convictions then non-bullies. Another study found that up to sixty percent of boys who were labelled as bullies in grade six through nine had at least one criminal conviction by the age of twenty four and that forty percent of these boys had three or more convictions.
Additional research shows that those who were bullies in adolescents are more likely to display aggressive behaviour towards their spouse and were also more likely to use severe physical punishment on their own children. Research also shows that this may lead to their children becoming bullies therefore continuing a cycle (Smokoski & Kopasz, 2005). Although bullies can antagonize anyone, studies show they tend to focus on a subset of children who display a distinctive pattern of characteristics and behaviours (Bernstein & Watson, 1997).
Bernstain & Watson (1997) describe children that are bullied to fall into two main categories, passive or low-aggressive victims and provocative victims. Passive victims are extremely passive and very rarely behave or act aggressively and they tend to be insecure of themselves, do not defend themselves, and are rejected by peers. Provocative victims tend to be highly aggressive and tend to provoke the attacks of others. Provocative or high-aggressive victims are usually among the most rejected of children – even surpassing the bullies themselves.
Bernstain & Watson (1997) stated that victims tend to come from families with a lower socioeconomic status. They go on to say that, in terms of physical characteristics, victims are similar to non-victims however in many cases, they tend to be more clumsy and have poorer motor coordination and skills. Those who are victimized also tended to be less attractive and have odd mannerisms or physical disabilities. The largest physical characteristic, according to Bernstain and Watson (1997) is that victims tend to be smaller and weaker than their peers.
Personality and intellectual characteristics include that victims tend to be anxious and insecure and have lower self-esteem. Pepler et al. (2006) say that victims also usually are more withdrawn and socially isolated then non-victims. Aggressive victims tend to be hyperactive and have a short temper whereas passive victims are sensitive, over-cautious, and unassertive. Both aggressive and passive victims are less able to control their feelings and are more likely to seek attention.
Before the early 1980’s, it was believed that bullying had very little to no long-term effects on the victim (Ma et al. , 2001). However, lately as bullying has grown to an international concern, many short and long-term effects have been identified and addressed for the victim. Bernstain & Watson (1997) tell us that when certain children are continuously victimized for a long period or periods of time, it may have implications for their future development, both short-term and long-term.
In the short-term, victims suffer from both psychological and physical distress, have difficulty concentrating, and tends to be afraid to go to school. Ma et al. (2001) also tell us that victims of bullying respond with avoidance behaviours such as skipping school or avoiding certain places within the school, a decline in academic performance, a loss of self-esteem, and in some cases, even extreme measures such as running away, suicide, or murder of the bully. Many victims of bullying are said to often bring home their frustrations and lash out at the parents (Ma et al. 2001). This tends to worsen family relationships and aid in the deterioration of these relationships. In the long term, bullying is seen as a serious problem on childhood and human development and can lead to many problems in older adolescents and adulthood. Bernstein & Watson (1997) tell us that those who are bullied usually develop much higher levels of depression in early adulthood, even when the victims were no longer victims of either direct or indirect harassment and no longer showed characteristics that bullying victims tend to show.
It is said that the victim tends to continue to criticize themselves which continues the higher level of depression. Children who are bullied usually suffer from physical and psychological distress that can continue long into adulthood (Ma et al. , 2001). They often experience a greater deal of fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, helplessness and depression than children who were not subjected to bullying as a child. The loss of self-esteem itself may continue well into the victims’ adult life and the may take a long time to even identify the original cause. Discussion
As we can see from scientific research, bullying has become a serious problem in society today that leads to both short-term and long-term developmental issues for not only the bully, but also the victim. Although, in the past, bullying was not seen as a problem and just a part of growing up, we can now see that it has more effects on development then originally thought and that these effects can continue all the way through adulthood. Bullies tend to be those who are stronger and larger then the victim of bullying. They are capable of finding ways of subtly causing just enough harm to hurt the victim but without being detected as a bully.
Many bullies come from backgrounds in which they receive little supervision at home. Many also develop anti-social behaviour such as excessive drinking, substance abuse, violence and aggressiveness. Research has shown that many bullies end up receiving criminal convictions in adulthood and many continue their anti-social ways. Victims tend to be smaller and weaker then the bully and do not stand up for themselves. Many victims tend to be anxious and insecure and have lower self-esteem. As the bullying continues, a high level of depression typically sets in that can continue throughout adulthood.
Many victims continue to feel insecure and have a lower self-esteem through adulthood that they hold from when they were young and were bullied. Bullying leads many to not want to go to school which can lead to lower academic achievement and can also lead to suicidal thoughts or thoughts and sometimes actions of violence towards the bully who hurt them. Bullying has many short and long term implications for both the bully and the victim. It is no wonder why bullying is seen as such a large problem in schools today. References Bernstein, J. Y. & Watson, M. W. 1997) Children who are targets of bullying: A victim pattern. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12(4), 483-498. Ma, X. , Stewin, L. L, & Mah, D. L. (2001) Bullying in school: nature, effects and remedies. Research Papers in Education, 16(3), 247-270. Pepler, D. J. , Craig, W. M. , Connolly, J. A. , Yuile, A. , McMaster, L. & Jiang, D. , (2006) A Developmental Perspective on Bullying, Aggressive Behavior, 32, 376-384. Smokowski, P. R. & Kopasz, K. H. (2005) Bullying in School: An Overview of Types, Effects, Family Characteristics, and Intervention Strategies. Children & Schools, 17(3), 101-110.