Recently, the gruesome death of a twelve-year-old Sylvester Oromoni is outrageous and a wake-up call to the menace of teen bullying in schools. The public cry for justice makes the impact of teen bullying on health an appropriate discussion at this time.
The discussion is in four parts. First, the impact of teen bullying on health examines the definition and statistics of teenage bullying in schools. Second, the reasons why teenagers get involved in such shocking acts. Third, the effects of bullying on mental and physical health. And lastly, how parents and schools can prevent and protect your child from teen bullying.
Facts About Bullying: Definition And Statistics
Bullying is any uninvited aggressive behavior(s) by another teenager or group of teenagers who are not siblings. It involves a perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times. Or is likely to be repeated if unchallenged. It may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth. May also include physical, psychological, social, educational harm, or even death.
Bullying is common and becoming a frightening trend. For instance, about 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property. While more than 1 in 6 high school students reported being bullied electronically. Common types of bullying include:
- Physical such as hitting, kicking, and tripping.
- Verbal including name-calling and hurtful teasing.
- Relational/social such as spreading rumours and alienating victim from group.
- Damage to property of the victim.
- Seizing forcefully food provisions of the victim.
Statistics on school bullying
Students ages 12-18 had experienced bullying in various places at school such as the hallway or stairwell, classroom, dormitory, and cafeteria. Other places are the bathroom, locker room, or outside on school grounds. Furthermore, international statistics on bullying reveal that:
- One third of the globe’s youth is bullied. This range from as low as 7% in Tajikistan to 74% in Samoa.
- Low socioeconomic status is a main factor in youth bullying within wealthy countries.
- Immigrant-born youth in wealthy countries are more likely to be bullied than locally-born youth.
Why Do Teenagers Bully Others
Teenagers who bully do so for many reasons. These include power, payback, difficult home life, popularity, pleasure, prejudices, and peer pressure/copycat.
Since teens may not feel any power in their own life, getting it in social dealings becomes an option. As such, any social dealings must be on their terms. And when things don’t go their way they bully others.
Teenagers who have been subjected to bullying also pay back the same to others. They often target someone weaker or more vulnerable than them. Or even go after those who bullied them. Afterward feeling a sense of relief for retaliating what they experienced.
Difficult home life
Teens that come from abusive, broken homes or kids with absent parents are more likely to bully. This is because bullying gives them a sense of power and control absent in their own life. While kids with low self-esteem may bully as a way to cover a low sense of self-worth. In addition, sibling bullying can lead to bullying at school.
Kids who are popular often make fun of kids who are less popular. They do this through continuous relational aggression. Similarly, kids who are trying to gain some social power may resort to bullying to get attention.
Boredom can make kids resort to bullying to add some drama to their lives. Then again bullying for pleasure may be due to a lack of attention and supervision from their parents. Therefore, bullying may be an outlet to get attention. So, for kids that lack empathy, bullying becomes an outlet to hurt other people’s feelings.
Kids are often targeted because they are different in some way. For instance, could be because they have special needs or are physically challenged. Other times, kids are singled out for their race, religion, gender, and sexual preferences.
Also, kids bully others to fit in with a clique, even if it means going against their better judgment. Most times they are preoccupied with being accepted than with the consequences of bullying. Likewise, kids’ copycat bullying is simply to go along with the group and avoid being the next target or not being accepted.
Effects Of Bullying On Health
Bullying affects the victims, the perpetrators, and those who observe bullying. And unfortunately, the effects of bullying sometimes continue into adulthood.
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic, and mental health issues such as:
- Depression and anxiety. Feelings of sadness and loneliness. Changes in sleep and eating patterns. As well as loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
- Health complaints, mostly headaches.
- Decreased academic achievement and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
Bullying perpetrators can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults.
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school.
- Engage in early sexual activity.
- Incur criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults.
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults.
Teenagers who observe bullying are more likely to:
- Experience high use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.
- Suffer mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Miss or skip school.
How To Prevent Bullying
Bullying is preventable. However, to prevent the impact of teen bullying on health, you must address the factors that put your kids at risk. In doing so, parents and school staff should have a role to play in preventing bullying. For example, they can:
- Help kids understand bullying by talking about what it is. And how to stand up to it safety. Let your teenagers know that bullying is unacceptable and ensure they know how to get help.
- Maintain and sustain the lines of communication with your kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends. Ask about school. And emphatise with their concerns.
- Motivate your kids to do what they love. For example encourage them to get involved in special activities, interests, and hobbies that can boost confidence.
- Train your kids to treat others with kindness and respect. And if your child is bullying others, stop the behaviour. Then address what motivated your child to engage in bullying.
How to Protect Your Kids From Bullying
Finally, to protect your kids from the negative impact of teen bullying on health, you must help them know what bullying is. Moreover, they can talk to you about bullying if it happens to them or others. They must also be able to stand safely to bullying. And know how to get help. The following tips can help protect your kids from bullying:
- Encourage your kids to talk to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. And even if the adult can’t solve the problem directly, they can always give comfort, support, and advice.
- Explain to your child how to stand up to kids who bully. Give them tips, like using humour and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away.
- Describe strategies for staying safe, such as hanging around adults or groups of other kids.
- Urge them to assist kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.