By : Kumbakonam S Venkataraman, Associate Editor, Dynamic Youth online magazine
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Bullying is Very Bad
K S VENKATARAMAN
Almost 30% of youth in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6-10, 13% reported bullying others, 11% reported being the target of bullies, and another 6% said that they bullied others and were bullied themselves.1
It is very common to see older children, especially boys bullying those who are younger and physically weaker. In schools and many public places this is a frequent occurrence. The bigger boys would bully the youngsters; what usually begins as a mild form of teasing would develop into humiliating, scolding and even manhandling. In some cases this would be a repetitive occurrence and would become a nightmare for the affected children.
The dictionary meaning of ‘Bullying’ is very simple: ‘The act of intimidating a weaker person to make him do something’. This could make us off our guard and unduly complacent for it does not explain the probable adverse effects of bullying on the lives of human beings.
Sadism very often raises its head as innocuous and playful mischief. Nobody takes it seriously. We tend to dismiss it is a natural expression of children. Sometimes we take the wrong side and insist on the affected child to be sportive and take the mental injuries in stride. Instead of correcting the mischievous boy, we give a lecture to the victim and add insult to injury! Thus we allow both the youngsters to get spoilt in different ways.
A Bully grows as a Sadist – Civil or Criminal
These boys would go on hurting others and would become more inventive in putting the blame on the victims when they react at long last.
Some of the bullying kids may come from the families where they do not get adequate emotional support. In order to attract attention of others they may become involved in bullying. If and when they get proper emotional support later on, these children would mend their ways and grow as normal persons.
The rest of the boys, who indulge in bullying for the heck of it or feeling happy about it, become sadists. It may be difficult to agree but true; there are ample chances of today’s prankster’s becoming a rowdy tomorrow and a sadist-criminal day after tomorrow. Offending others as a matter of fact and enjoying it as a matter of right blurs the vision of the prankster. He becomes inebriated with such power-plays and grows to think that he is entitled to tease, offend, hurt and bully others. In due course of time whenever he meets with an objection or protest, he commits himself to teach a lesson and prove his ‘superiority’; very often he does it by indulging in more serious mischief. Thus it becomes a spiral ladder for him, as shown below, worsening his mental stance.
Bullying > Toleration > Habituated Bullying > protests > Aggressive Bullying
Instances are not rare when the grown-up boys in colleges have behaved in a very inhuman manner towards their juniors on the pretext of ragging. Sometimes they have crossed their limits by miles and even have committed murders!
These boys grow as arrogant persons. But unlike the bullied kids, these boys do not lose their self-confidence or self-esteem. They are also very mush self-interested persons. They bully only those who are weaker than them. These bullies would never clash against those who were stronger than them. So this self-interest also would prevent them to do anything against their welfare. The manipulative skill they develop from the childhood to escape from the aftereffects of bullying stand them in good stead. So only a few of these children become known criminals and get punished by courts.
Most of the bullies become sadists under the garb of some civil or business positions. Don’t we see many government officials, especially police officials, habitually behaving rudely towards others? Many examples can be seen among persons possessing wealth or powerful positions. These people unfortunately forget that the power or position given to them is only to discharge their duties efficiently; and not to cause mental injuries to others.
As they have been committing mischief from childhood and getting away with it by making their victims feel like fools, they become expert in it. Their main game in life is, “Teasing, Provoking, Feigning ignorance, and Making a villain of your victim”.
For example, if such a man becomes a police officer, he would behave unreasonably and cause mental injuries to others at will. His garb of a police officer allows him to behave arrogantly and mischievously to the extent of damaging the reputation and hurting the minds of many others. The affected parties would be forced to react sooner or later. This fellow would put the blame on them and charge them legally, thereby creating a criminal for his country. This is how young bullies grow and function as sadists and misplaced agents provocateurs and continue their negative contribution to the humankind!
All this, simply because nobody corrected such persons when they were young enough and they were allowed to indulge in bullying their younger and weaker friends. Gradually their basic attitude shapes as ‘I am okay; you are not okay’.
Bullied Children may grow as Melancholiacs or Terrorists
The condition is worse for the bullied children. They grow in either of two ways, depending on their circumstances.
The first chance is that the bullied kids become depressed, anxious and insecure. They are afraid of everything; they lose their self confidence and become convinced that they are worthless. In extreme cases, bullying can be devastating for children and youth, with long-term consequences. Researchers have found that years later, long after the bullying has stopped, adults who were bullied as youth have higher levels of depression and poorer self-esteem than other adults.2 Their mental attitude develops as: ‘I am not okay; you are okay’. Unable to succeed fully in anything, they become melancholiacs.
The rest of the victims of the bullies grow with a deep-rooted vengeance in their minds. Having been treated unreasonably by stronger boys, having been insulted and injured, having suffered a helpless position for long, having lost faith in the sense of justice and the system of its keeping, and having damaged their own self-esteem and confidence, the victims of bullying develop an attitude of ‘I am not okay; you are not okay’. They would like to destroy everything in the world, including themselves!
They punish their assailants in their minds several times as cruelly as possible. What they could not do in the real world, they do it umpteen times in their minds. The suppressed anger and hatred seriously spoils their mental hygiene. They grow with an inner commitment to take revenge. They want to revenge themselves for having been so meek and others for having hurt them.
The hurt planted in the young mind germinates like a poisonous seed and spoils the mental hygiene of the victim. They would give anything to prove to themselves that they are strong and capable of inflicting pain on others; the pain once inflicted upon them by bullies.
Such persons raring to go to punish the world for having hurt them earlier, easily fall prey to the terrorist outfits that provide them training to hurt others; they give them opportunities to hurt others; and above all, they instill a philosophy to justify their cruel activities to themselves.
The chances of the bullied children, who were mentally injured by the more powerful or richer children, becoming militants and terrorists are very strong. If circumstances favor, such metamorphosis of a soft-natured boy’s becoming a suicide-bomber can be taken for granted.
Bullying should be curbed among children
Dr. Andrea Schreier of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick in England has conducted a study on this subject3. She has found out that the Children who are constantly bullied may be more likely to develop psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions years later as adolescents. Her study has shown that children who were consistently victimized by their peers at ages 8 or 10 were twice as likely to have psychotic symptoms by the time they hit adolescence. That risk was even greater if the bullying was particularly chronic or severe.
The results of the study conducted by Andrea Schreier have highlighted the consequences of childhood bullying and why it should not be tolerated.
The findings also support previous research that suggests childhood bullying may increase the risk of mental disorders in adults who are victimized as children.
The study has covered more than 6,400 children in Bristol, England, who were evaluated annually from ages 7 to about 13. The children, their parents, and teachers reported whether the child had been bullied by peers. (Bullying was defined as negative actions by one or more students with the intention to hurt.) At each annual visit, interviewers also rated the children on whether they experienced psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, or thought disorders during the previous six months.
The results showed that 46% of children were bullied at either age 8 or 10. By about age 13, 5.6% of the children had one or more psychotic symptoms definitely present and 11.5% - 13.7% of the children had one or more psychotic symptoms suspected or definitely present.
Bullied children were approximately twice as likely to have psychotic symptoms in adolescence, regardless of other risk factors, such as other mental illnesses, family circumstances, or the child’s IQ. The risk of psychotic symptoms was stronger when the childhood bullying was chronic or severe.
Researchers say more study is needed to understand the link between childhood bullying and psychotic symptoms.
The authors note that possible explanations may be that the chronic stress of childhood bullying stimulates a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia to trigger psychotic symptoms. Or chronic childhood bullying may also alter how the brain processes and responds to stress.
Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Mihalic, S. point out4:
While approaches that simply crack down on individual bullies are seldom effective, when there is a school-wide commitment to end bullying, it can be reduced by up to 50%. One approach that has been shown to be effective focuses on changing school and classroom climates by: raising awareness about bullying, increasing teacher and parent involvement and supervision, forming clear rules and strong social norms against bullying, and providing support and protection for all students. This approach involves teachers, principals, students, and everyone associated with the school, including janitors, cafeteria workers, and crossing guards. Adults become aware of the extent of bullying at the school, and they involve themselves in changing the situation, rather than looking the other way. Students pledge not to bully other students, to help students who are bullied, and to make a point to include students who are left out.
It is the duty of parents, teachers and elders of the society to tackle the menace of bullying effectively and sensibly. The exposure to the senseless violence in the common television shows is playing havoc in the minds of our children. It is easy to correct behavior when the children are young. Proper value system should be established in their minds. They should be taught the value of mutual love and cooperation. It should be impressed in their young minds that hatred is harmful to one and all.
The world is paying a heavy price for having neglected the need for imparting good value system to our children. The absence of a good value system entails lack of mental hygiene of children. Bullying is the manifestation of this lack.
The challenge of terrorism cannot be tackled by killing the grown-up terrorists. We should ensure that our children grow as noble global citizens and that the tribe of terrorists becomes extinct by itself. We should catch them young and teach them the values of love and friendship.
- Olweus, D., Limber, S., & Mihalic, S. (1999). Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Book Nine: Bullying Prevention Program. Boulder, CO: Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
(Quoted in http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/faq/bullying.asp )
K S Venkataraman is Associate Editor, Dynamic Youth Online Magazine. For in-depth articles on many youth development subjects visit www.dynamicyouth.org
His e-mail: email@example.com
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