With bullying being such a hot topic these days, I think it is important for people to examine the effects that it has on its victims. Most people are aware of the immediate effects; anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, isolation, depression… However, I think it is important to examine the long-term effects that victims must deal with.
In a July 24, 2007 article written by Mark Dombeck, PH.D., Dr. Dombeck discusses the short term and long term effects of bullying. He basically states that bullying results in “two ugly outcomes”. The first is that you are more likely to become depressed and/or angry and/or bitter. The increased repetition of being bullied continually shows victims that they are undesirable and unsafe in the world and are powerless to defend themselves. The victims are being set up for Learned Helplessness, which in turn sets them up for hopelessness and depression.
The second ugly outcome is more of a long term effect. With a damaged self-concept, victims have a hard time believing in themselves, which makes it more difficult for them to persevere through difficult and challenging situations. As a result, these victims can lose out on opportunities for advancement and ultimately employment as adults. Also, while it is usually the sensitive kids that get teased a lot, these kids learn to think of their sensitivity as a bad thing and to avoid it or channel it into revenge fantasy and anger. Later in life, these children turn into angry or cynical adults and find it difficult to enter into or maintain loving and warm intimate relationships.
Dr. Dombeck lists some short term effects below:
In the short term:
- Anxious avoidance of settings in which bullying may occur
- Greater incidence of illness
- Lower grades than non-bullied peers
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings
In the long term:
- Reduced occupational opportunities
- Lingering feelings of anger and bitterness, desire for revenge
- Difficulty trusting people
- Interpersonal difficulties, including fear and avoidance of new social situations
- Increased tendency to be a loner
- Perception of self as easy to victimize, overly sensitive and thin-skinned
- Self-esteem problems
- Increased incidence of continued bullying and victimization
Keep up the good fight!