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Bullying stays with us forever

February 10, 2012

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If you have been bullied, it may affect you in many ways and stay with you well into adulthood.  Know that you don’t have to feel this way and that there are resources that can help. If you are being bullied, or know someone who is, Tell them to stop! This step is one that most never do.

If you are being bullied, remember that it isn’t your fault and that no matter what you shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are or how you feel. Make sure to talk with someone you trust.  Talking to someone could help you figure out the best ways to deal with the problem. Reach out to family members and friends you trust to discuss the problem and do not be afraid to ask for help.  Talking to a counselor or health professional can help you get through the emotional effects of bullying. 

Many do not realize but bullying has serious and lasting effects.  While these effects may also be caused by other factors, research has found bullying has significant effects for those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who witness bullying. People who are bullied have a higher risk of depression and anxiety, including the following symptoms, that may persist into adulthood: Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, Changes in sleep and eating patterns, Have increased thoughts about suicide that may persist into adulthood ( In one study, adults who recalled being bullied in youth were 3 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or inclinations), Are more likely to have health complaints, Have decreased academic achievement and school participation, Are more likely to drop out of school and they are more likely to retaliate through extremely violent measures (In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied).

People who bully others have a higher risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults, Are more likely to get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school; Are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults (In one study, 60% of boys who bullied others in middle school had a criminal conviction by age 24) and are more likely to be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses or children as adults.

People who witness bullying tend to have an increased use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety and are more likely to miss or skip school.

There is no one single cause of bullying. Rather, individual, family, peer, school, and community factors can place someone at risk for being bullied or for bullying others. Even if a child has one or more of the risk factors, it does not mean that they will bully or will become bullied.

Generally, children, teens and young adults who are bullied do not get along well with others, are less popular than others, have few to no friends, do not conform to gender norms, Have low self esteem and are depressed or anxious.

Children, teens and adults who are at risk of being the bully are normally well-connected to their peers, have social power, and at least one of the following: Are overly concerned about their popularity, Like to dominate or be in charge of others.

Others at risk for bullying others are more isolated from their peers and may have any of the following: Are depressed or anxious, Have low self esteem, Are less involved in school, Are easily pressured by peers, Do not identify with the emotions or feelings of others.

Other risk factors for bullying others include the following: Being aggressive, Have less parent involvement, Think badly of others, Are impulsive, Are hotheaded and easily frustrated, Have difficulty following rules and tend to view violence in a positive way.

Somethings people have lead to believe increase risk of bullying, doesn’t affect it in anyway. Many feel the Location in which they live has a big part to play. There are no differences in rates of bullying for urban, suburban, or rural communities. Bullying happens everywhere. Others believe school size has a lot to do with it. The overall percentage of students being bullied does not vary based on school size. And the biggest flawed conception of bullying is based on gender. Boys and girls are just as likely to be involved in bullying but forms of bullying do slightly vary by gender. For instance, some research has found that girls are more likely to bully others socially (excluding others intentionally, breaking up friendships and so forth).

If you or someone you know is being bullied make sure to tell an adult or talk to a trusted individual. For more information about bullying and how to stop it visit: www.stopbullyingnow.com, stopbullying.gov, kidpower.org or talk to you guidance councilor, friend or family members! Next week we will cover the links between bullying and suicides in teens and young adults.

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