Long Term Effects of Childhood Bullying

Published: 2022-12-15
Long Term Effects of Childhood Bullying
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  History Human resources Research Personality
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1682 words
15 min read

Childhood bullying is a global problem that entails the intentional aggressive behavior against other children with the aim of intimidation and harassment. Bullying creates a situation with an imbalance of power in the sense that the bully is more superior to the victim. In the United States, 22% of public school students are affected by bullying according to the US Department of Education (Espelage, Hong & Mebane 716). There are various forms of bullying, all of which can negatively affect the welfare of a child. Bullying can either be direct or indirect. Direct bullying includes verbal and physical harassment while indirect bullying includes social exclusion and rumor mongering (Wolke & Lereya 879). Wolke and Lereya state that 1 in every 3 children experience bullying at one point in their lives. The shocking statistics also stipulate the 10-14% experience chronic bullying that lasts half a year. Amazingly, only between 2 and 5% of children are bullies (Wolke & Lereya 879). The bullying behavior is destructive due to the long term effects that are felt even during adulthood. The long term impact of bullying affects a child's psychological, physical, and social health, hence a negative vice that should be eliminated in society.

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Traumatic experiences during childhood play a fundamental role in shaping the psychology of adolescents while transitioning to young adulthood. In fact, childhood trauma has been linked to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal tendencies (Espelage et al. 717). Childhood bullying victimization has been found to affect psychological functioning of children during adolescence. A study carried out by Espelage et al. found that childhood bullying "was a significant concurrent predictor of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress." (722) Bullying victims are at high risk of developing PTSD a situation made worse by other childhood trauma experiences. Since people suffering from PTSD are imprisoned by their situation, children who experience bullying regularly perceive that they are trapped by their situations. They feel as if they do not have a way out and therefore, react towards traumatic stress and show high levels of anxiety and depression. In the education environment, victims are more likely to miss school due to the fear of bullying. As a result, these children develop anxiety that further leads to depression. Chronic depression is very lethal because it has been linked to teenage suicide or suicide thoughts. Coping with the stress of being bullied takes a toll on individuals to the extent of losing the value of life.

Bullying victims report low levels of happiness and poor academic performance in school. According to McDougall and Vaillancourt, "children who are chronically victimized through the first years of elementary school are less happy in school" (301). Students feel the joy of attending school when they are accepted by peers and treated equally without discriminative tendencies. However, whenever children feel threatened and disowned by their peers, the satisfaction or happiness derived from attending school diminishes. Likewise, victimization in school leads to poor academic performance in victims. Bullying causes challenges in adjusting to the school environment especially due to the heightened perception of insecurity. Victimized students feel like they lack support from teachers and view school as a hostile environment. Coping with bullying forces victims to be highly alert and can choose either flight or fight. Such background thoughts destroy attention and concentration leading to poor academic performance. As a result, victimized students view school as an aversive place and report a low school attendance particularly in early high school as compared to nonvictims (McDougall & Vaillancourt 301).

Victimization affects how people forge social relationships, an aspect that leads to negative self-perceptions. In young children, bullying leads to a decline in popularity, especially for the victim. Victimization from middle-childhood to adolescence is linked to increased peer rejection. McDougall and Vaillancourt write that "in early and middle adolescence, the sustained experience of victimization predicted relationship problems" (302). Victimized children have poor social skills and have fewer friends. They feel isolated from the peers which can be a detrimental factor in developing low-self esteem. In childhood bullying, victims develop a negative image of their self-worth. Some feel that they deserve to be abused because they lack what it takes to be socially acceptable. During adolescence and young adulthood, victims are shyer due to negative self-esteem and poor social self-efficacy. Adolescents in the teenage hood are particularly affected by victimization due to hormonal changes. Low self-esteem coupled with anxiety and depression promotes suicidal thoughts and has been linked to increased teenage suicide. Furthermore, the attributes of withdrawal, emotional challenges, loneliness, anxiety, and depression form a basis for the broader mental health problems facing victims of childhood bullying. For example, teenage girls experience a high level of psychiatric distress that is emotional in nature promoting withdrawal and other mental challenges due to victimization (McDougall & Vaillancourt 302).

On the other hand, bullies also develop short and long term effect due to their bullying behavior. Elizabeth Lynch, a freelance journalist indicates that research shows bullies have low school attendance and are more likely to drop out of school than other students. Further, the journalist indicates that a number of studies early childhood bullies develop future problems with delinquency and violence. Therefore, bullies are more likely than victims to develop antisocial behaviors characterized by drunkenness, vandalism, theft, and fighting (Lynch). On the contrary, adult victims of bullying feel bitter and angry. Kidscape, a children's charity organization carried out a survey of 1000 adults aged between 18 and 81 in 1999 to study the impact of bullying in adulthood (Lynch). The survey reported that 46% of the victims' contemplated suicide as opposed to 7% who were not bullied (Lynch). Similarly, the adults felt that childhood bullying affected their ability to succeed in work, social relationships, and education. As a result, these individuals felt bitter and angry due to their past traumatic experiences that affected their later life. In the same sense, bullies were more at odds with the criminal justice system from young to late adulthood because they had developed deviance behavior at a young age. Lynch concludes that both bullies and victims experience the consequences of bullying in later life.

Victimization changes the physiological response to stress leading to inflammations that expose victims to cardiovascular disease risks. Hawkes writes that according to one study, bullied children develop cardiovascular diseases during adulthood due to the concentration of inflammatory factors in the bloodstream. The inflammations arise from the chronic increase in the C-reactive protein (CRP). According to Wolke and Lereya, blood tests carried on bullied children revealed increased CRP levels (883). Furthermore, additional tests on children aged 19 and 21 indicated that the C-reactive protein was twice as high as bullies (Wolke & Lereya 883). Likewise, the CRP level in bullies was quite lower than in nonvictims or those who were not bullies. A report by Danese and Arseneault in the Psychological Medicine Journal found fibrinogen and CRP that are biochemical markers linked to blood clots and blocked arteries, a situation that translates to obesity (Hawkes 1). One of the risk factors linked to obesity is heart disease. For example, 12% of obese women can attribute their obesity to childhood bullying according to Arseneault, a team leader from King's College London studying the link between bullying and obesity (Hawkes 1). Therefore, one of the long term effects of childhood bullying is poor health in adult across all socioeconomic status.

Research literature has concentrated much of the study on childhood bullying in K-12 school districts where policy intervention and prevention programs have been implemented (Espelage et al. 724) However, college students do experience long term effects of bullying as well. Therefore, clinicians working in institutions of higher learning such as universities would benefit by training on the current research on victimization as a critical milestone in restoring the social and behavioral functioning of bullying victims (Espelage 724). Similarly, physicians can play an important "role in the recognition, prevention, and treatment of bullying behavior" (Lemstra et al. 12). Lemstra et al. stipulate that Canada has been successful in the prevention of violent behavior and injury by using physician intervention programs. Therefore, screening risk indicators of bullying behavior such as child abuse and violence could help prevent the long term effects of childhood victimization.

In conclusion, bullying is a worldwide challenge that children pass through during growth and development. However, bullying has negative long term implications for both the bully and the victim. Studies indicate that childhood bullying leads to poor health in adulthood such as obesity and lethal cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, bullying has a negative implication on the mental health of victims. Victimization causes individuals to develop anxiety, depression, withdrawal, low self-perception, and even PTSD. A worrying factor in childhood bullying is the increase in suicidal thoughts and tendencies, especially during teenage adolescence. Teenage suicide is of great importance to educators and policymakers because more needs to be done to prevent suicide among students. Adult victims of childhood bullying feel angry and bitter because victimization interfered with their ability to succeed in education, social relationships, and work. Likewise, bullies also suffer from the dose from their own medicine because they develop antisocial behavior linked to delinquency and violence, hence more vulnerable to theft, drunkenness, and vandalism among other factors. In summation, the impacts of bullying transcend beyond childhood into adulthood and affect both the bullies and victims.

Works Cited

Espelage, Dorothy L. et al. "Recollections Of Childhood Bullying And Multiple Forms Of

Victimization: Correlates With Psychological Functioning Among College Students". Social Psychology Of Education, vol 19, no. 4, 2016, pp. 715-728. Springer Nature, doi:10.1007/s11218-016-9352-z.

Hawkes, N. "Bullying In Childhood May Be Linked To Heart Disease Risk, Study

Says". BMJ, vol 350, no. may20 2, 2015, pp. h2738-h2738. BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.h2738.

Lemstra, Mark et al. "Risk Indicators And Outcomes Associated With Bullying In Youth

Aged 9-15 Years". Canadian Journal Of Public Health, vol 1, no. 103, 2012, pp. 9-13., Accessed 25 Mar 2019.

Lynch, Elizabeth. "Being Bullied at school can result in long-term health and Social effects."

Nursing Standard, 2004.

McDougall, Patricia, and Tracy Vaillancourt. "Long-Term Adult Outcomes Of Peer

Victimization In Childhood And Adolescence: Pathways To Adjustment And Maladjustment." American Psychologist, vol 70, no. 4, 2015, pp. 300-310. American Psychological Association (APA), doi:10.1037/a0039174.

Wolke, Dieter, and Suzet Tanya Lereya. "Long-Term Effects Of Bullying". Archives Of

Disease In Childhood, vol 100, no. 9, 2015, pp. 879-885. BMJ, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306667.

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