The psychological impacts of bullying
Bullying is a word that a lot of people are conversant with. You may have experienced or perpetrated it while growing up, or maybe you’re still in it. Whichever way, there are effects that come with this cause, both for the victim and the bully.
In this article, you will find my insight on the impact of bullying. But before we look at the effect of bullying, it’s important we understand explicitly what bullying is.
What is bullying?
According to the dictionary, bullying is “an act of intimidating a person to do something, especially such repeated coercion”. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” Bullying is not limited to schools. It has gained root in the workplace and our neighbourhoods. Furthermore, people no longer get bullied physically alone. A bully can get access to their victims via the internet, a phenomenon called cyberbullying. Research shows that 17% of school children in England and 13% of 9-12 year olds in the US experience online bullying.
Some factors are commonly found in every case of bullying: the bully who has more power, authority or ability; the victim who is obviously weaker; the action happens over and over again. Bullying can be perpetrated through physical violence, intimidation or oppression. It can also be done verbally using insulting, abusive or degrading words to the victim. Constant snubbing, ignoring, and snorting can amount to bullying as well.
The psychological effect of bullying at school
Bullying also happens in the workplace. But we shall begin with the impact of bullying at school among young people.
Victims of bullying are perpetually overwhelmed by fear. The terror stems from the thought of their previous experience at the hands of their bullies. They try as much as they can to avoid getting in contact with their terrorists. Sometimes, the victims are unable to report their bullies for fear of reprisals.
The depth of trauma that victims of bullying find themselves in can be numbing. A child who is constantly harassed and intimated gradually loses his or her vitality and slides into depression.
- Inability to concentrate
For students, schooling becomes a chore because they find it difficult to concentrate on academic work, which consequently attacks their grades, sending them to the bottom of the class.
- Substance abuse
A child who has gone through multiple phases of bullying is likely to become guilty of substance abuse. They resort to taking excessive alcohol, drugs and some other substances to compensate for their bartered psychological structure. They, overtime, become addicted to these substances that eventually damage their body system.
Students that have suffered long periods of bullying develop hatred for themselves, utterly despising everything that concerns them. They find it difficult to see anything good about themselves, their self worth having been badly damaged.
- Trouble sleeping
The psychological trauma a child who experiences bullying goes through keeps the mind unsettled, making it difficult to get sufficient sleep. If the victim eventually sleeps, he or she may become taunted to awakening by disturbing thoughts of their experience. Some may resort to sleeping pills just to get some sleep.
- Suicidal tendencies
In a bid to ‘end it all’ and set themselves free from the pangs of bullying, victims may start conceiving thoughts of suicide. Some take it to a farther length by making suicide attempts. To them, being alive means having to deal with the unending pains and trauma of bullying.
Psychology effect of bullying at work
The Workplace Bullying Institute conducted a survey, and the result revealed that 30% of workers have directly experienced bullying while at work. Since we have established the possibility of the occurrence of bullying in the workplace, let’s now see what impacts this act has on the psychology of workers.
- Panic attack
Panic attack comes with intense anxiety resulting from the psychological impact of bullying. Employees who are victims of bullying dread Mondays because it reminds them of the horror they will have to face for the rest of the week. This group of people wish every day was a holiday and always look forward to the weekend.
- Low self esteem
In a situation of bullying, the bully, perhaps an oppressive boss, constantly runs down employees to the point that their confidence gets eroded. This bears down heavily on the victim’s self esteem, shattering it.
- Low performance
With a defective mind, the performance of a victim of bullying turns abysmal because he’s unable to fully concentrate and give his best. This will also lead to an overall drop in productivity both for the individual and the entire organization.
There is a tendency for an individual who suffered bullying to become a bully in the workplace. The victim is looking for a way to let out some steam. So the best way some of them try to achieve this is by bullying other people who are inferior or subordinate to them, more like transferred aggression.
Going through difficult cycles of bullying can make the victim start separating themselves from the rest of the staff, reclining in self-isolation. These victims often experience mood swings; their emotions are ever erratic. This erratic state of emotions gets the victim repulsive to others who would rather keep themselves than getting infected with some negative vibes. With time, interpersonal relationships and networks will be greatly affected adversely.
Lastly, bullying goes on, daily in our various corners — schools, religious centres, workplace, associations and groups. Bullying begins as mere acts of disturbance, but over time, the level of intimidation and oppression grows into the monster called bullying. Online bullying, also called cyberbullying, has made it possible for bullies to reach their victims wherever they are, breaking all physical barriers without fear of being caught. The effects of bullying include loss of self-esteem, isolation, inability to concentrate on given tasks, depression amongst others.
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