Whether it be in a school playground, classroom, office or online, anyone can be affected by bullyinh. Remember, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me”, but just how true is this? After the bruises, cuts or broken bones heal what is left? It appears that it is emotional harm that lasts much longer than physical harm. The psychological impact of bullying has been looked at on many occasions however most people still have more questions than answers.
As the topic becomes more talked about, people are realising that this needs to be stopped. Unfortunately, finding a way for this to happen seems impossible. Teachers, parents, and policymakers are finally trying to do something about it.
So, let’s start at the beginning;
According to the American Psychological Association, “Bullying may inflict physical, psychological, social, or educational harm on a victim. Behaviours include verbal and physical aggression that ranges in severity from making threats, spreading rumours and social exclusion, to physical attacks causing injury. This can occur face-to-face or through technology such as phones and computers. Finally, some behaviours may overlap with aggression that meets the legal definition of harassment, but not all incidents of harassment constitute bullying”.
The important characteristic of bullying to note is that it has an emotional and psychological impact. It can cause upset/pain, degrade, expose, harass, and/or injure.
Nobody can foresee if they will be bullied especially when basing if off their age, sex, race, class, sexual orientation, or any other factor. This can happen to anyone regardless of traits.
The lifelong psychological impact comes directly from the experience a person has of being bullied. Victims who experience bullying during childhood/teenage years have a greater risk of developing depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. These types of issues often extend into their adult life. These issues make it a lot more difficult to attend to essential characteristics of a well-balanced life such as, eating, sleeping, working, exercising, and engaging in interesting hobbies. Such issues can make it harder to have healthy relationships, whether romantically or with friends.
Many researchers have tried to study whether bullying causes suicide ideation and suicide attempts. There is a conflicting response, and many argue that bullying does not directly cause suicide ideation and suicide attempts and that these issues stem from other factors. Therefore, it can be correct in saying that involvement in bullying, along with other risk factors, increases the chance that a person will engage in suicide-related behaviours.
Ireland has brought in procedures and legislation for education (https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Anti-Bullying-Procedures-for-Primary-and-Post-Primary-Schools.pdf) and the workplace (http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1998/act/21/enacted/en/html) with regards to bullying. Know your rights!