Even though the short-term effects of bullying are already commonly known by many, the fact that bullying during childhood leads to health problems in later life is rather disconcerting. The study that came to this conclusion was carried out in Canada and it encompassed over 660 teenagers and children. But, it is important to note that this study is limited to an extent because all of the subjects were white.
The tests consisted of questionnaires regarding the kids’ self-esteem and their general health in relation to headaches, insomnia, and dizziness. Bullying was also split into two types, physical, getting shoved by other classmates for example, and psychological, for instance, rumor mongering and verbal abuse.
Physical bullying was reported in greater amounts by boys than by girls, with roughly 45% out of the total study group while the latter only 29%. Psychological abuse was roughly at the same levels for both girls and boys, at 39%. Only 1.5% of subjects were subjected to daily bullying, with the others suffering from this once in a while.
Long-term effects of bullying range from depression to somatic symptoms. If the child is bullied at the age of 8, more severe outcomes will be probable, with an increased risk of developing psychological disorders. Teenagers are also extremely vulnerable. This is because they are in their period when a higher degree of low self-esteem is present. This time in their life also suffers from an increased susceptibility for influences coming from their social groups and peers.
Almost 45% of the subjects will become a bully themselves at one point in their life while the others will suffer from a decrease in performance at school or work and even in relationships. This is rather grim if one would take into consideration the fact that in the US, over 77% children and teens are subjected to both psychological and physical bullying during school and high school.
Bullying has been around since ancient times, with some researchers and psychologists describing the act itself as more of an animalistic behavior used by bullies to establish themselves as an alpha in the group. The general idea that in some cases, bullying is used as a form of releasing built up tension, or simply venting anger, should also be taken into account.
The fact that bullying affects everyone, including the bullies themselves, not just the bullied, urges school faculties to take steps in order to stem every instance of this occurring. If just one bully is allowed to continue his activities, the chain of bullying propagates itself, spreading more and more over the years. One may even think of bullying as a type of social disease in some specific cases.
Because bullying during childhood leads to health problems in later life, peer victimization should become less and less accepted in the next few years if we hope to stop this ongoing trend of bullying. One of the ways through which children can be helped to overcome this situation is a development of better-coping mechanisms and providing emotional support in a more extensive manner.