Bullying is one of the most difficult situations that a child or adolescent can live . It supposes the rejection of the peer group at a time when the identity base is being built and seeking to satisfy the need for affiliation.
Bullying includes diverse behaviors: from explicit physical aggression to the use of insults or contempt, as well as the exclusion of play and shared activities, or the spread of false rumors about the victim.
As a consequence of all this, the person may resent his emotional health, the feelings he has about himself and the concrete way in which he relates to others; being able to extend to adulthood.
Then we will make a detailed review of the consequences of bullying , this being a matter of great interest today due to the emergence of new technologies (internet) and associated forms of harassment whose impact is still largely unknown.
- Related article: ” The 5 types of bullying or bullying
The aftermath of bullying
Bullying is a form of persistent harassment, that does not respond to identifiable causes and that generates a high degree of stress in those who experience it. For this reason, it is linked to the appearance of affective and behavioral problems whose presence can extend throughout life, although adopting different faces in each period.
In this article, we will review some of the most common consequences of bullying, in order to facilitate its prompt identification, articulate the necessary measures to tackle the situation and offer psychological help that minimizes the impact on the life of the boy or girl who suffers from it. .
1. Social skills deficit
Optimal development of our social skills requires safe spaces in which symbolic play can be displayed during childhood, or the first relationships of intimacy and confidence in adolescence . Both life periods are an opportunity for self-knowledge and for the practice of the basic aspects of social reciprocity, inherent in any bond of friendship or companionship.
The emergence of bullying limits the options available to the child to put into play the foundations of social cognition, which will later allow building basic skills to interact with others.
In these circumstances, they may choose to assume extreme attitudes on the continuum between passivity and aggressiveness, showing themselves vulnerable or belligerent in a desperate effort to protect their image or even their physical integrity.
These difficulties can precipitate that in adult life there is fear of rejection, or that the situation of social interaction is perceived from a preventive reserve that resembles shyness (although it is not really shy). It is important to remember that the consequences of bullying transcend the years, hindering the ability to adapt to environments other than school (work, family, etc.) and imposing “social tripping” that may eventually require a therapeutic approach.
2. Rejection of the peer group
The need for affiliation is basic in the human being, surpassed only by physical security and by access to basic functions for survival (nutrition, for example). In this sense, the rejection that children and / or adolescents may experience generates an indelible mark and produces feelings of loss of control and helplessness , which condition the foundations of the attachment that was forged during their early childhood.
Bullying victims are more vulnerable to experiencing new situations of bullying , by peers different from those who originally started the whole problem. This unfair phenomenon (widely contrasted by Social Psychology) is due to the fact that looking for “enemies” tends to strengthen the ties that maintain group cohesion, and those who have suffered from these forms of violence are often perceived as easy targets for this purpose.
New information and communication technologies, such as mobile phones or social networks, spread these attacks to settings other than those of school or institute (and even university).
Abuse through any of these means can cross the limits of educational centers and deeply interfere in the victim’s life , turning potential witnesses to an increasing number of anonymous people. All of this causes its harmful effects to multiply exponentially.
- You may be interested: ” The 11 types of violence (and the different kinds of aggression)“
3. Low self-esteem
Our perception of ourselves is, throughout life, susceptible to the opinion of others about who we are. Self-image is a very complex process, in which individual and social dimensions come together to guide us in the effort to understand what our role is and what differentiates us as human beings.
However, the importance of the perspective of others is particularly relevant in the age period in which bullying situations tend to be experienced.
Contempt or insult, as well as physical aggression and manifest rejection, are perceived as a sign of inadequacy on the part of the recipient. It is a set of messages that build an intimate sense of shame, and that can even promote guilt and permanent questioning of who we are or what we are worth. This doubt becomes stronger as time passes, conditioning self-perception and ultimately damaging self-esteem.
Self-efficacy is another dimension directly linked to self-esteem, which is related to the belief in the ability to successfully carry out a specific task. One of the consequences of Bullying is that the victims develop the unshakable certainty that they are not “adequate” to relate to others , considering that they will be repudiated before any attempt at rapprochement and forging a special predisposition for the development of social anxiety.
4. Academic failure and refusal to go to school
One of the first suggestive signs that something is happening is a refusal to go to school or institute. Many of the boys and girls who suffer this type of bullying go as far as pretending to be unwell to avoid attending school, simulating symptoms of an alleged illness. Other times, the expectation of going to school generates real physical sensations, compatible with intense anxiety; and which include headaches, diffuse pain, or disorders of the digestive system .
Anxiety levels can cause a decline in the cognitive resources required to meet the most demanding academic challenges. At the same time, persistent absenteeism can cause the rhythm of the content taught during the class to be lost, all of which is related to obtaining bad grades that prevent access to the curricular itineraries that are desired for the future.
The loss of motivation for the studies does not take long to appear , wishing intensely to leave this vital period to enter a job market in which things can develop differently. However, the simple change of scene in which the day to day runs is insufficient to satisfy the emotional pain that accompanies those who had to live such an unfortunate situation, generally extending to other areas of life when adequate treatment is not articulated.
5. Depression and anxiety
One of the consequences of Bullying that generates more difficulties is the development of mood and anxiety disorders, with major depression being especially common. The clinical expression of this picture acquires a unique appearance in this age period, and can manifest itself as irritability. For this reason, the accompanying sadness tends to project itself outward , masking itself as a different problem than it really is (often confused by the family as behavioral problems).
Beyond social anxiety, which has been previously discussed, bullying can also precipitate a constantly high autonomic activation. Thus, the victim is persistently physiologically altered , which is fertile ground for the first episodes of panic. This circumstance requires immediate attention, since otherwise it may be forged in a more complex and lasting disorder.
Other problems that have been consistently described in children who suffer bullying are the feeling of unwanted loneliness and isolation, as well as changes in eating pattern and sleep. While all of the above symptoms may occur in the context of adolescent major depression, they may also occur in isolation and require intervention. The inability to enjoy things that were previously rewarding is also a common phenomenon.
- You may be interested: ” Major depression: symptoms, causes and treatment“
Very recent studies have revealed that the experience of bullying in school can increase the risk of self-injurious behaviors during late adolescence, especially in girls .
Most of the cases of self-inflicted damage seek to alleviate stress, or communicate it through punitive routes, with few cases constituting a suicide attempt by themselves. People who have been bullied are estimated to have a five times greater risk of harming themselves later in life.
7. Suicidal ideation
Meta-analysis studies indicate that suffering from bullying increases the presence of suicidal ideation and autolytic behaviors. The group that suffers a higher risk of incurring in this type of thoughts and actions is that of young people who suffer and exercise bullying (both situations simultaneously), who also show a greater prevalence of emotional disorders (anxiety, depression, substance use and mistreatment within the home).
An increased risk of suicidal ideation has been described in adolescent boys and girls who, in addition to being bullied, feel misunderstood at home or at school. In these cases, the concept of double victimization is used to refer to an aggravated impact for the situation of abuse, as a result of the passivity of the organizations that should ensure the safety of the child, or the lack of protection of the care figures.