by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Have you or someone you know been bullied? Bullying can happen anytime at any age from childhood to senior citizen. Bullying means different things to different people, for example a young child will view bullying differently than an adult. the technical definition of bullying is ” an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person physically or mentally.” The US National Center for Education Statistics has classified bullying into 2 categories.
1. Direct Bullying, which involves repeated episodes of physical aggression like shoving, poking, kicking and punching etc.
2. Indirect bullying or social aggression. This type of bullying is characterized by isolating the victim. Isolation is usually accomplished thru a wide variety of techniques including spreading rumors, criticizing the victims mode of dress or other social identifiers like race or religion. Indirect bullying is likely to be more subtle as well as verbal than direct bullying.
Prior to the late 1990’s bullying had been mostly ignored. It was considered to be part of growing up and learning to deal with adversity. Then in the spring of 1999 the Columbine High School massacre happened. The 2 shooters were identified as boys that had been bullied for years. Following the Columbine shootings the US Secret Service officials studied several premeditated school shootings and found that bullying played a “major role” in over 2/3 of the incidents.
The effects of bullying may not always lead to fatal extremes but there is almost always some type of adverse effect on the victim. Bullying has been identified as the primary cause of behavior and psychiatric problems like anxiety disorders , depression, drug and alcohol use and even PTSD among children and teens. Some victims feel so emotionally distressed they commit suicide. in fact some officials believe bullying to be the leading cause of suicide in teens.
Bullies are also at risk for developing problems. Bullying is violent behavior and usually leads to increasing violence as the bully grows up. Some estimate that as many as 1 out of 4 children that were/are bullies will have a criminal record before the age of 30. Many bullies fail in school, relationships and career success. Most bullies are actually insecure and use bullying as a means to improve their self esteem. Then there are thos bullies that have personality disorders that prevent them from understanding normal social emotion and behavior.
One of the reasons bullying has gone unchecked in the past is the phenomenon known as “typical bystanders”. Most of the time bullying occurs in the presence of a large group of bystanders, though the bystanders are not usually involved in the act of bullying they are generally unwilling to risk involvement. This gives the illusion that the bully has the support of the majority which creates the fear of “speaking out” against the bully. When the bully is allowed to act unobstructed by the people around it is essentially giving the bully permission to continue.
Since the Columbine massacre in 1999 there has been a growing cultural movement against bullying. In 2006 ,the US declared the first “National Bully Prevention Month.” As there have been more publicized incidence of bullying states have passed various individual anti-bullying laws – as the consequences of bullying become more and more visable so has the movement to stop bullying everywhere.