Bullying is not a new phenomenon, and most people are in some way familiar with the practice of bullying and being bullied. Whether you’ve experienced bullying yourself, or you have been the bully, there are innumerable dangers and potential hazards associated with bullying, all of which can negatively impact you for years to come. Before we get into the hazards of bullying, we must first identify what exactly bullying is and how it can present itself.
What Constitutes Bullying?
Bullying is defined as any behavior that involves repeatedly and intentionally harming someone else. Although this is a broad definition, its scope is important in identifying bullying behavior. While it may be associated with schools and childhood, bullying can occur across a wide variety of situations, ages, and places, and can be delivered in ways that negatively impact people physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Bullying behaviors may include (but certainly are not limited to) all of the following:
• Stalking (both online and in real life)
• Excluding Others
• Property Destruction
Bullying is far from minor, even when behaviors may not seem extreme.
The Hazards of Being Bullied
Being bullied has been linked to a host of ill effects, not the least of which is the increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions, and even the possibility of suicidal ideation. People who are bullied may isolate themselves from others, and are more likely to experience significant declines in self-esteem and confidence than those who are not targeted by bullying behavior. Bullying has even been tied to violence, as many school shooters were found to have had a history of being bullied. Bullying can impact people in virtually all aspects of their lives, and its effects are not relegated to the institution in which the bullying takes place.
The Hazards (and Risk Factors) of Bullying
While there is a substantial focus on the people being bullied—and rightly so—there is also something to be said for those who are engaging in bullying behavior. These individuals are more likely than the general population to be from unstable or unhealthy homes or families of origin, and are often using bullying as a means of compensating for poor mental health, including poor self-esteem, an inconsistent sense of self, and an unstable connection to others, including parents, siblings, and peers. People who bully are at increased risk for illegal activity and delinquency, tumultuous relationships, and further trouble in adulthood. Bullying is often considered a childhood pattern that can predict criminality in adulthood, and can be a strong warning sign of future mental health issues and behaviors.
The Dangers of Bullying
Bullying has been the target of numerous public awareness campaigns, and is often a source of concern in school and community settings. The focus on bullying is understandable; people who are bullied both in childhood and adulthood are at increased risk for a slew of other conditions, and may experience issues and concerns that extend far past the bullying incident—or incidents—alone. These issues can include social anxiety and isolation, depression, damaged self-esteem, fear of connection, and loss of trust. Bullying can significantly impact an individual’s ability to feel safe and develop connections with others, and can make friendships difficult to maintain, particularly if bullying occurs from an individual that was considered a friend or acquaintance.
Bullying comes in many forms. Many think of it as a single action or practice, such as actively insulting an individual in a public setting, but bullying can occur in a variety of settings. In the workplace, bullying can look like refusing to consider people for promotions, purposefully damaging an individual’s reputation, or excluding a peer from workplace activities and events. At school, bullying can look like persistent teasing, gaslighting behavior, and excluding people from outings and events. At home, bullying can involve cruel taunts or persistent mentions of an individual’s weight o appearance. It can also involve online bullying, including behavior like cat fishing, or stalking social media profiles and leaving unkind comments or online harassment.
Altogether, bullying deals incredible damage to an individual’s mental state. Whether it is a short-term occurrence or a long-term issue, bullying is harmful to the person experiencing it and perpetrating it. Anti-bullying campaigns usually focus on awareness and accountability, and both of these interventions can help people encountering bullying develop healthy coping strategies and manage the effects of bullying in a healthy and productive way. Read more here.