Bullying is one of the most difficult situations a child or teen can go through. It involves the rejection of the peer group at a time when the basis of identity is being built and seeks to satisfy the need for affiliation.
Bullying includes a variety of behaviors: from explicit physical assault, to the use of insults or contempt, to exclusion from gambling and shared activities, or spreading false rumors about the victim.
As a result of all of this, the person may feel resentment towards their emotional health, the feelings they harbor of themselves and the specific way in which they relate to others; be able to extend into adulthood.
so we will do a detailed examination of the consequences of bullyingAs this question is of great interest today due to the emergence of new technologies (Internet) and the associated forms of harassment, the impact is still largely unknown.
The consequences of bullying
Bullying is a persistent form of harassment that does not respond to identifiable causes and generates a high degree of stress in those who experience it. For this reason, it is linked to the onset of emotional and behavioral problems the presence can extend throughout life, while adopting different faces in each period.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common sequelae of bullying, in order to facilitate their early identification, articulate the steps needed to end the situation, and offer psychological help that minimizes the impact on the life of the boy or girl who suffers from it.
1. Social skills deficit
The optimal development of our social skills requires safe spaces in which it can be deployed symbolic play during childhood, or the first relationships of intimacy and trust in adolescence. The two periods of life are an opportunity to get to know each other and to practice the fundamental aspects of social reciprocity, inherent in any bond of friendship or camaraderie.
The emergence of bullying limits the options available to children to engage the foundations of social cognition, which will then allow them to develop basic skills for interacting with others.
Faced with these circumstances, you can opt for adopting extreme attitudes in the continuum between passivity and aggressiveness, showing them vulnerable or belligerent in a desperate effort to protect his image or even his physical integrity.
These difficulties can precipitate fear of rejection in adulthood, or the perception of the social interaction situation from a preventive reserve that resembles shyness (although it is not really the case). It is important to remember that the legacy of bullying transcends years, hampering the ability to adapt to different school environments (work, family, etc.) and imposing “social barriers” that may ultimately require an approach. therapeutic.
2. Rejection from the peer group
The need for affiliation is fundamental in humans, surpassed only by physical security and access to basic functions for survival (nutrition, for example). In this sense, the rejection that children and / or adolescents may experience generates an indelible mark and it produces feelings of loss of control and helplessness, Which conditions the foundations of the condition that was forged during his early childhood.
Victims of bullying are more vulnerable to new situations of harassment, By colleagues other than those who originally threw the whole problem. This unfair phenomenon (largely contrasted by social psychology) is due to the fact that the search for “enemies” tends to strengthen the bonds that maintain the cohesion of the group, and those who have suffered these forms of violence are often perceived as targets. easy for this purpose.
New information and communication technologies, such as mobile phones or social networks, propagate these attacks in scenarios other than those of the school or the institute (or even the university).
Abuse by any of these means it can cross school boundaries and deeply interfere with the victim’s life, Turning an increasing number of anonymous people into potential witnesses. All this leads to an exponential multiplication of its harmful effects.
3. Low self-esteem
Our perception of ourselves is, throughout life, sensitive to the opinions of others about who we are. Self-image is a very complex process, in which individual and social dimensions come together to guide us in the effort to understand what our role is and what makes us different as human beings.
However, the importance of the other person’s point of view is particularly relevant in the secular period when situations of bullying are usually experienced.
Contempt or insult, as well as physical aggression and overt rejection, are seen as a sign of inadequacy. by the recipient. It is a set of messages that create an intimate sense of shame, and which can even foster a sense of guilt and a constant questioning of who we are or are worth. This doubt reaffirms itself over time, conditioning self-perception and ultimately attacking self-esteem.
Self-efficacy is another of the dimensions directly related to self-esteem, which is related to the belief in the ability to successfully complete a particular task. One of the consequences of bullying is that victims develop the indestructible certainty that they are not “adequate” for establishing relationships with othersConsidering that they will be repudiated in the face of any attempt at rapprochement and forge a particular predisposition to the development of social anxiety.
4. School failure and refusal to go to school
One of the first telltale signs that something is happening is refusal to go to school or high school. Many boys and girls who suffer from this type of bullying end up pretending to be sick to avoid going to class, faking symptoms of a so-called illness. Other times, the wait to go to school generates real physical sensations, compatible with intense anxiety; and who understand headache, diffuse pain, or digestive system disorders.
Anxiety levels can lead to a decrease in the cognitive resources needed to cope with the most demanding academic changes. In turn, persistent absenteeism can lead to the loss of the rhythm of the contents taught during the class, connecting all of this to obtaining poor grades that prevent access to the desired curricular routes for the future.
The loss of motivation for studies does not take long to appear, Want to leave this vital period to enter a job market where things can develop differently. However, the simple change of scenery in which daily life takes place is insufficient to assuage the emotional pain that accompanies those who have had to experience such an unhappy situation, generally extending to other areas of life when it is not. not articulated.
5. Depression and anxiety
One of the most difficult effects of bullying is the development of mood and anxiety disorders, and major depression is particularly common. The clinical expression of this image acquires a unique character at this period of age, which can be pronounced in the form of irritability. For this reason, the sadness that accompanies it tends to project outwards, Hiding them as a different problem than it really is (often the family confuses them with behavioral problems).
Beyond social anxiety, which was discussed above, bullying can also precipitate consistently high regional activation. like that, the victim is constantly physiologically altered, Which is fertile ground for the first episodes of panic. This circumstance requires immediate attention, otherwise it can turn into a more complex and lasting disorder.
Other issues that have been consistently described in children who experience bullying are unwanted feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as changes in the pattern. food and sleep. While all of the above symptoms can occur against the background of major depression in adolescents, they can also present in isolation and require intervention. The inability to enjoy things that were previously rewarding is also a common occurrence.
Very recent studies have shown that the experience of bullying in school may increase the risk of self-injurious behaviors in late adolescence, especially in girls.
Most cases of self-inflicted violence are aimed at relieving stress, or communicating it through punitive means, with a few cases constituting a suicide attempt on their own. It is estimated that people who have been bullied are five times more likely to get hurt later in life.
7. Thoughts of suicide
Meta-analysis studies indicate that suffering from bullying increases the presence of suicidal ideation and autolytic behavior. The group that suffers the most risk of engaging in these types of thoughts and actions are the young people who suffer and bully (both situations simultaneously), who they show a higher prevalence of emotional disorders (Anxiety, depression, drug addiction and domestic violence).
There is a marked risk of suicidal ideation in adolescent boys and girls who, in addition to suffering from a situation of bullying, feel misunderstood at home or at school. In these cases, the concept of double victimization is used to denote an aggravated impact due to the situation of abuse, due to the passivity of the organs which should ensure the safety of the child, or the lack of protection of the children. care figures.
- Melissa, K. Vivolo-Kantor, A., Polanin, JR, Holland, KM, DeGue, S., Matjasko, JL … Reid G. (2014). Bullying and Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis. Pediatrics, 135 (2), 496 – 509.
- Smith, PK (2016). Bullying: definition, types, causes, consequences and intervention: bullying. Personality and Social Psychology Compass, 10 (9), 519-553.