Monday, November 14, 2011

Rock On... the Psychological Effects of Bullying

Bullying is a no-win situation, especially for those who have been on the receiving end. It is a phenomenon most commonly associated with school, but bullying has also found its way into the workforce. From a psychological angle, victims of bullying tend to suffer from a number of issues which could drastically interfere with their normal functioning. However, most of the people who have endured the ordeal of bullying go on to lead rich, fulfilling lives. Through it all, those who do get bullied suffer the most but typically become more productive members of society from their experience(s).

Wherever there’s a chance for social interactions, the potential for bullying is present. In the psychological field, bullying is defined as “repeated aggression in which there is a power differential” between two people (Craig & Pepler 86). Generally speaking, bullying is typically associated with school-aged children from kindergarten all the way through high school. The rates for bullying here are alarmingly high, as anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of students either bully or are bullied; this percentage remains constant in many well-developed countries, including Australia, England, and the United States of America (Veenstra et al. 672). As upsetting as that sounds, victims of bullying can (and do) tragically seek revenge against those they deem responsible for their suffering. Since 1997, roughly two-thirds of all school shootings have been executed as a result of bullying (Comer 559). The most infamous instance occurred on April 20, 1999, when high school seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered twelve other students and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves in Littleton, Colorado. Heinous events, like the aforementioned Columbine massacre, carry the assumption that bullying takes place exclusively on school grounds. However, bullying can take place among grown men and women in the workforce. Those whose occupation involves “high job demands and low job resources” are most likely to be victimized (Tuckey et al. 217). This occurs because an individual’s livelihood is at stake if their performance is not up to par. In certain job settings where internal competition is regular, some people may resort to forceful techniques to get what they want, even at the expense of others. But regardless of the environment, the subtle trauma that bullying brings remains unequivocal.

For those who have been victimized, the psychological repercussions are plentiful. School children and teenagers who have been frequent targets of bullying most commonly report “anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints” (Craig & Pepler 87). Even more damning are their abrupt objections about school. Warning signs that children surreptitiously avoid bullies include a sudden loss of interest in academics, hesitation about going to school, and a dismal disposition about themselves (Plestina). If left untreated, children can suffer psychologically in the long term. Those who are frequently bullied in their childhood and adolescence “are at greater risk of suffering from depression and other mental health problems, including schizophrenia” when they hit adulthood (Plestina). However, adults who are bullied at their jobs are not immune from the psychological consequences, either. Those who have reported being bullied in the workforce experience greater anxiety, more physical health problems, less job satisfaction, higher job truancy, and a decreased responsibility to join organizational activities (Tuckey et. Al 215-216). When compared, neither group is at a disadvantage with each other. Fortunately for all bully victims, no matter the age, help is out there.

Despite the stigma bullying presents to its victims, many who have been bullied manage to persevere. Having a strong support system – may it be from family, church, school, and/or professional counselors – can help see bully victims see past their pain. For example, in schools where a bully prevention program was implemented, teachers “felt more positively about working with parents regarding bullying problems” (Craig & Pepler 89). Additionally, those who have been bullied mature faster from their experiences because they are forced to face their problems up front and come to the realization that bullies only act out of callow measures. Children, however, who continue to be victimized by bullies “become increasingly powerless and unable to defend themselves”, and if this persists, it can carry over into their adult lives, where they’ll have a harder time coping with peer-to-peer relationships (Craig & Pepler 86). But under certain circumstances, bullying may even be beneficial. For instance, bullying in the police force helps in “maintaining the pecking order and enforcing discipline within the hierarchy” of different ranking officers (Tuckey et. Al 226). This may be tolerated because being a police officer is a highly stressful job, and some intimidation by the higher ranked officers can help alleviate this omnipresent stress. Either way, bullying can be an effective technique to either learn or teach affected individuals that they are stronger than any derogatory actions pitted against them.

(Academic) Works Cited
[1] Comer, Ronald J. Abnormal Psychology: Seventh Edition. Worth Publishers, New York, 2010.

[2] Craig, Wendy M. & Debra J. Pepler. "Understanding bullying: From research to practice." Canadian Psychology, Vol. 48(2): 2007. Pp. 86-93.

[3] Plestina, John. "Bullies & Busses III - School Bullying Can Lead to Serious Adult Problems." Ely Times (NV), 31 Jul. 2008.

[4] Tuckey, Michelle R.; Maureen F. Dollard; Patrick J. Hosking; and Anthony H. Winefield. "Workplace bullying: The role of psychosocial work environment factors." International Journal of Stress Management, Vol. 16(3): 2009. Pp. 215-232.

[5] Veenstra, René; Siegwart Lindenberg; Albertine J. Oldehinkel; Andrea F. De Winter; Frank C. Verhulst; and Johan Ormel. "Bullying and victimization in elementary schools: A comparison of bullies, victims, bully/victims, and uninvolved preadolescents." Developmental Psychology, Vol. 41(4): 2005. Pp. 672-682.

No comments:

Post a Comment