Bullying (cont.)

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What are the effects of bullying?

Bullying can have significantly negative outcomes. Teens who bully are at greater risk for engaging in delinquent behaviors, including violence at school and otherwise. They are also at risk of substance abuse and dropping out of school. Victims of these behaviors also tend to develop or increase their severity of anxiety. Bullies and victims tend to experience depression more than their peers who have not been involved in bullying, which can lead to academic problems, frequent absences from school, loneliness, and social isolation. Research shows that bullies and their victims are also at risk for having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Victims of workplace bullying may suffer from reduced job performance, more absences, less work satisfaction, and ultimately cause higher staff turnover.

Either being a bully or the victim of bullying has been found to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in both boys and girls. However, research indicates that the risk of both thoughts and attempts at suicide seem to be higher for girl victims and bullies no matter how infrequent the bullying occurs, while the risk of suicidal thoughts seems to increase in boy bullies and victims when the bullying occurs repeatedly. Interestingly, the frequency of suicide attempts in boy bullies and victims seems to increase even when bullying occurs infrequently.

What should victims of bullying and their parents do to stop bullying?

Professionals tend to suggest that if parents think their child is being bullied, they should take it seriously and encourage them to talk about it. Remaining calm, supportive, and reassuring that they are not to blame for their victimization can go a long way to helping the victim of bullying feel comfortable enough to talk about it. Try to gain details about the circumstances of their bullying and who is involved and teach your child how to respond to being bullied assertively, without getting upset. Your child may also find it helpful to stay with other students and a teacher so the bully has less opportunity to engage in the behavior. Other ways to stop bullying at school include parents contacting the school and remaining in touch with them to seek their help in alleviating the bullying. Contrary to the inclination of many parents, mental-health professionals advise against contacting the parents of the bully.

Aside from addressing the bullying directly, victims of bullying may benefit from engaging in activities that can improve their confidence and self-esteem, whether it be sports, music, or other extracurricular activities. Engaging in such activities can also help the child build friendships and improve their social skills. Professional help may be necessary if the victim of bullying has significant emotional symptoms that interfere with their ability to function.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2013

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