Saturday, June 30, 2007

Consequences of Bullying

Studies of bullying suggest that there are short- and long-term consequences for both the perpetrators and victims of bullying. On those who are bullied, Olwuess (1993) reported that being victimized in the middle school feels more isolated than their peers, who often reject them out of fear than they too will become a target of bullies if they are seen with targeted students. Being bullied often leads to eventual retaliation by victims. According to Suderman et al (1996), victims of bullying typically become very unhappy children who suffer from fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem as a result of bullying. They may try to avoid or escape from situations that may lead to bullying. In a follow-up study by Olwuess (1993), the results show that the former male victims who had a positive social adjustment in their early twenties were more likely to be depressed, and had lower self-esteem than a comparison group who had not been bullied. Victims often fear school and consider school to be an unsafe and unhappy place. In other serious cases of bullying, victims have even attempted or committed suicide in order to escape the torment. (Bullying, 1996) Olweus (1993) found several instances of suicide by boys, who had been severely bullied in Norway in the early 1980’s. In UK, at least 16 children kill themselves because they are being bullied at school ( Specifically, victims of relational aggression affect the foundation of an adolescent’s sense of self. Feelings of insecurity may persist throughout life. Moreover, trust in the external world, is thwarted if not destroyed (Relational Aggression, 2007)
The perpetrators of bullying incidents also experience short-term problems such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, and difficulties with school work. Some more extreme long-term effects for the bully are equally disturbing; which include other antisocial behaviors (NASBE, 2003). As established by studies in Scandinavian countries, a strong correlation appears to exist between bullying other students during the school years and experiencing legal or criminal troubles as adults. By the age of twenty-three, about 60 percent of identified male bullies in middle school are reported to have at least one conviction of crime and 35 percent to 40 percent male bullies had three or more convictions (Olwuess, 1994). The findings have been confirmed by other researchers such Robins (1978) & Loeber & Dishion (1983). Chronic bullies seem to maintain their behaviors into adulthood, negatively influencing their ability to develop and maintain positive relationships (Oliver, Hoover, & Hazler, 1994). Chronic bullying maybe related to delinquency problems. There is good evidence that bullying patterns begin in early childhood (Conger & Miller, 1966; Conger, Miller, & Walsmith, 1965, Lerman1968 as cited in Bartol, 1986: 111). Early signs of bullying that may lead to later delinquency which includes behaviors like being; less friendly, less considerate in dealing with others, negative to people in authority; and more impulsive and generally less responsible. Those who would become eventually delinquents showed poor academic records. (Bartol, 1986:114) All children, including the bystanders, are negatively affected by bullying. Those who witness bullying incident, neither victims nor perpetrators may also experience anxiety or fear. The entire climate of a school can be affected by bullying behaviors if they go unchecked; threats and intimidation associated with bully behaviors can create a negative atmosphere for all students (Hoover & Hazler, 1991as cited in Espelage, D.L et al 2000). Given these serious consequences for students who bully, for their victims, and for the impact on the school environment, prevention and intervention during early adolescence is extremely important to minimize these risks.

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