Opinion: The effects of bullying

Opinion: The effects of bullying

Part One explored the five stages of bullying. To recap, bullying starts slowly, escalating as small wins are gained. In Part Two we investigate the effects of bullying on the target and the reasons kids bully.

In the early stages of bullying there are often no signs. When they do eventually surface, the signs can vary depending on age and social circumstances of the target. Because peer influence is very important in school-aged children, short term effects of late stage bullying can be very severe in this age group.

Early warning signs can be any or all of the following: frequently feeling ill in the morning, continually ‘losing’ their possessions, becoming aggressive with siblings, being quiet, withdrawn or moody, bed wetting, insomnia, and refusal to socialise.

As the situation progresses, children become more emotionally fragile and withdrawn, mood swings increase and self-esteem decreases. Unexplained injuries can occur. Academic performance decreases. Targets of bullying are often embarrassed and try to hide the bullying from loved ones because they’re ashamed or because they fear any interference by loved ones will only make it worse.

There is no single reason for why children bully. The bully may be bullied themselves, either by an older sibling, a parent or guardian, or another person in a position of perceived power. They may observe or experience parents or other role models using aggression or intimidation to get their way within or outside the family.

Additionally, they could be frustrated by a learning disability or have underdeveloped social skills, empathy or impulse control.

They usually have a diminished ability to solve problems, and often wish to hide their own inadequacies by focusing on the inadequacies of others. Sometimes it can also be something as simple as being friends with other bullies.

They may fear being the target of bullying if they don’t participate in bullying others. In other words, the bully is often weak and far less tough than they seem.

Part Three will explore how to manage the schoolyard bully.

Darren Stevenson – founder and MD of Extend Before and After School Care – has 25 years of experience as an educator in Australia and the UK, having served in five schools.