When children are bullied in school, it is often considered a part of growing up, or preparation for life, but the lasting effects of this bullying is not so obvious. A bully is described as “a person who uses any approach at his or her disposal including, but not limited to, intimidation (physical, emotional, verbal), positional authority, relational authority, or societal authority to create limiting effects on another’s behaviors, thoughts, or feelings” (Cross). To some, bullying is regarded as a normal part of childhood.
Many men and women remember being the victim of a bully, yet others remember being the bully. Nevertheless, most people do not realize the potential dangers bullying can cause, both for the bully and the individual being bullied. The harm done to children is irreparable, and whether the damage is emotion or physical, there are negative effects to both parties of the bullying. The deep scars from constantly being looked down upon, in addition to being ostracized, have the potential to lead to further violence, as well as the continuing violence of the bully.
Although bullying is seen as a part of everyday life within most American schools, the physical and emotional torment involved can lead to devastating results for the victims and the bullies themselves. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to fatal consequences. The damage caused by the violence of childhood and high school bullies can leave lasting consequences on individuals who are harassed by bullies. As a result of continual bullying, teasing and harassment, children may feel defenseless or even feel as if their life is in danger. It is often seen that, “Kids victimized by bullies are likely to suffer mental scars from the experience…
Researchers then found that those who were bullied were more likely than their peers to later report symptoms of depression and anxiety. ” (Bailey). The wounds from being bullied as a child will stay with that individual until adulthood- that is if they make it past adolescence. The pain of being an outcast among peers, and looked upon as inferior to other students can push an individual to suicide. For example, “One child committed suicide after being repeatedly teased and tormented about her hair, whereas another child killed himself after being relentlessly teased about his weight (Hefty boy who feared teasing, 1996)” (Landau).
Not all victims react by taking their own lives, but the damage incurred has lasting effects. Many endure the bulling all the way through high school, resulting in mild to traumatic emotional damage depending on the individual. The victim feels helpless with no one to turn to and these feelings of low self esteem may last a lifetime. A small percentage may react to bullies in an aggressive or violent manner as seen recently in school shootings and violence. Furthermore, the victim is not only prone to becoming excessively violent, but children who bully may similarly become excessively violent.
The bullies themselves are at an equally dangerous risk of becoming hindered in life as a result of bullying as those children being bullied. Children who bully others in school often become more violent as time progresses. Their violent behavior is often overlooked by teachers or other adults and often is somewhat encouraged. These students, who constantly harass and tease classmates who are smaller than average, timid, or lack social skills, will often grow into violent adolescents. Time and again it is observed that “teasers seem to enjoy dominant and visible status among classmates…
In contrast, the targets of teasing were most frequently described as unpopular, timid, or fat” (Landau). It is seen that the bully is more prone towards involvement in gang activity or other criminal acts involving violence and aggression. Many of the childhood and adolescent bullies have criminal records by the time they hit adulthood. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “In one study, one out of every four highly aggressive eight-year-old boys had a criminal record by age 30, compared with one out of 20 boys in general” (Harvard Mental Health Letter).
These statistics indicate that we should no longer turn a blind eye towards bullying and not accept it as a normal rite of passage. Intervention by teachers and other adults must emphasize that bullying is an unacceptable behavior and has no benefit in society. Bullying is a hidden element of the culture of violence that contributes to the kind of retaliatory school violence happening at schools throughout the country. For example, the tragic shooting at Columbine High School shows the excessive reaction of the victim’s need for revenge.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were repeatedly bullied and subjected to verbal putdowns, leading directly to their plan of violent revenge. Klebold had a stash of secret video tapes which were found shortly after his death at Columbine. In one tape, he declares, “‘You all deserve to die because you let this bullying go on,” He then addressed the school through the camcorder, “We’re the only ones strong enough to stand up and do the right thing,” (Winter).
The role of bullying in Columbine resulted in a violent rampage and shooting spree that ended with the tragic losses of thirteen lives and injured twenty-three. Many people did not see the severity of bullying until this tragic event, but now it is realized that bullying can have devastating effects on the individual, as well as society. The violence of bullies has been passed to the victims, and in turn retaliated by more violence for revenge. Shortly after the Columbine tragedy, many additional school shootings and other forms of violence by students who are teased and harassed by peers occurred.
In many instances the motives of these students were the same as those of Harris and Klebold, and the idea seeking revenge with violence can be linked to Harris and Klebold. These bullied individuals responded to their tormentors with violence and their retaliations with excessive retaliation. However, with the exception of these remote cases of retaliatory violence, millions of other students cope with bullying without resorting to violence. Bullying has been a part of the organized education for a long time and is present in schools across the country.
Childhood bullying, “On the one hand can be considered a common and normal developmental experience; alternatively, it can be considered an important cause of stress and of physical and emotional problems” (Bond). Bullying among classmates continues to be a huge problem in the school systems with long term devastation and effects. Bullying in our society should be dealt with accordingly to prevent such horrific acts of violence. Teachers and other adults must be educated in ways to handle these forms of aggression.
Since the violence of Columbine, schools have a new awareness of the severity of the problem and many guidelines on school bullying have been established. Often times the teachers do not want to get involved or they accept that our society will always have victims and bullies. However, the intentional harming of peers by bullies has devastating ramifications to the victim, bully and society in general. The violence experienced at Columbine and other schools reminds us of the overwhelming effects of bullying on the weak and timid victim.
These victims are harassed verbally and physically to the point that severe psychological harm or violence occurs. The malicious taunting of peers by bullies poses an unacceptable burden on the victim. The repeated taunting, harassment, intimidation, and humiliation of children who cannot defend themselves happen all too often in today’s schools. The destruction of individuals through verbal of physical assaults send victimized children into a downward spiral of self loathing, or even worse, violent outbursts.
Bullying is a large scale problem in which an estimated 160,000 children each day miss school for fear of being picked on, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Many children who are terrorized and humiliated in school tell no adult about it because of embarrassment. It is a perpetuating problem that persists in today’s schools. Bullying is bad for the victims, for their persecutors, for bystanders, and for the educational climate. Nonetheless, it has often been regarded as inevitable, even a natural part of growing up or a preparation for life.