Childhood trauma is one of the major problems in the contemporary American society. One of the main causes of childhood trauma is identified as bullying. According to Olweu (1993), the definition of bullying at school is a student being exposed to the possibility of being intentionally attacked or harmed, repeatedly and overtime, either physically or emotionally by one or more other students. This issue is not a normal rite of passage. It can have destructive consequences for the young people such as resorting to the extreme act of committing suicide. As stated by Dr Dryden, 28% of young people, have been the victim of bullying from grade 6 to 12 (medicinetNet 2019). Lee (2013) states that 87% of causes of school shooting, is bullying, suggesting that it cause mental health issues and depression which persuade most perpetrators to carryout mass shooting at school for revenge. Such cited examples that happened in USA are the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and Santa Fe High School in Texas where death toll was 17 and 10 respectively. Further, bullying that happens at school can cause great impact to the country and downgrade economy and development drastically. Thereby, this essay will analyze the types of bullying and then examine the effects of it on youth and preventive measures with focus on schools in USA, to discourage childhood bullying and encourage compassion among communities.
CAUSES OF BULLYING
The main causes of bullying can be identified by the process of victimization. students can get bullied just by being at the wrong place in a wrong time but mostly bullies choose their victims based on physical appearances and personality differences. It was stated that students who were differently abled had a high chance of victimization and to engage in more bullying perpetration than their peers without disabilities. Students who are different, for example disabled, popular, smarter, attractive, or children who are introverted, anxious or submissive, are most likely to get bullied. Bullies mostly target children who have Asperges, Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia or any condition that sets them apart (Gordon 2019). Young individuals who suffer from depression and anxiety also be more likely to get bullied cause those kids usually tend to be alone and make it an easy target for bullies. Since, these innocent victims are very vulnerable to the situation and are prone to take it in seriously they may fall into these bullies’ hands and be a prey for them, which eventually can make their health and mental condition deteriorate drastically and it could even lead to self-harming. In addition, kids who have different views on sexual orientation, for example being gay or transgender has a high chance to get bullied. This is known as homophobic bullying. Kosiw (2004) stated that a recent nationwide survey of LGB youth reported that almost 40% denoted experiencing physical harassment and 64.3% reported feeling unsafe at their school because of their sexual orientation. Moreover, it is not uncommon for students to get bullied based on their religious beliefs too. Children may also get bullied for being in a specific race. mostly White students tend to target African-American students and bully them. These could be some of the major reasons for students to involve in bullying.
Moreover, A survey conducted in United States reports that bullying was more common and stronger among students, living with a single parent (Oliveira 2015). This proves that family background of the victim and the bully can also be considered as one of the main causes for them to involve in bullying. A perpetrator can also choose a victim based on their social status including financial position of the victim. A poor family background student can easily get targeted by a bully because they cannot easily retaliate or tattle back. In contrast, a bully cannot be blamed 100% because studies have found that these antagoniser come from violent family background. Bullies asserted that their families are low in warmth and, lack parental management skills (Pellegrini ,1998). Family situations and other violence, such as family violence can be a reason for the involvement in bullying and students who have a depressed life and are the only child to the family has more tendency to bully others at school so that they can have fun by dominating others. Thereby its a highlighting factor that family backgrounds of a child can play a major role on getting bullied or being a bully.
TYPES OF BULLYING
Bullying is a negative behavior directed by an individual to grasp power over another individual or group. It may be physical bullying and verbal bullying. Olweu’s (1993) further clarified what negative actions denoted in his definition. He stated, “It is a negative action when someone intentionally inflicts, or attempts to inflict, injury or discomfort upon another…negative actions can be carried out by physical contact.” verbal bullying which could also be known as emotional bullying is the most common form of bullying that children experience. It involves insults, name calling, disrespectful remarks, teasing or intentionally misplacing or hiding someone’s belongings. secondly, physical bullying which includes shoving, hitting, fighting, and tripping as well as threats of physical harm and strives to force people to act in particular ways. Kowalski, Limber and Agaston (2012) stated that physical bullying is more common among elementary school children in U.S.A. These 2 types of bullying are used as weapons to harm other students physically, psychology and socially.
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ADVERSE EFFECTS OF BULLYING
Bullying is identified as a significant problem in U.S. schools as it affects the victim and the bully physically, psychologically and socially. It can affect all the participants who are involved in the process of bullying including the bully and those who witness bullying. Reijntjes, Kamphuis et al. (2010) stated that victims of bullying are at high risk of negative outcomes in childhood, including physical, emotional and psychological health problems. Mostly victims of bullying suffer from low self-esteem such as lack of confidence and feeling bad about oneself mostly due to verbal bullying which can create a negative self-image. Victim may also experience physical injury such as bruises, cuts, scratches, torn clothing, vandalism and common somatic problem such as, pain, nausea, dizziness and cold because of physical bullying. Therefore, this shows that bullying can also take a tour from self-esteem to physical health. Childhood bullying influences not only victim’s physical health but also mental and social outcomes. According to Takizawa, Manghan, Arseneault (2014) victims of childhood bullying had the highest level of psychological distress at ages between 18 and 50 with high risk of heavy smoking. Students who are bullied can experience negative mental health issues such as nightmares and night-terror and are more likely to take up smoking. Victims of bullying have also been reported to more frequent development of internalizing problem, anxiety disorder, and depression disorder in young adulthood and middle adulthood (Wolke, Lereya 2014). Sometimes when bullying goes in an extreme way, it might build up a lot of pessimism in a victim which in turn could psychologically affect the victim tremendously, as far as have disastrous result such as suicide. In 2003, a government study found that 16 children each year committed suicide as a direct result of bullying (Freeman, Bentman 2011). It was clearly expressed that victims were at high risk for exhibiting psychotic experiences at age 18 and having suicidal ideation, attempts and completed suicides (wolke, Lereya 2014). Such cited example that happened in U.S.A. are the suicide of the 15-year-old phoebe prince because of school bullying. Furthermore, the adverse effects of bullying on the social health of the victim could be a major issue as well. Due to bullying victims tend to lose interest in education and absenteeism increases which results in lower education qualification. According to Siddiqui 160,000 students missed school each day for fear of being bullied (Sound vision). It is seen that victims find it difficult in making friends and be less likely to live with the partner and to have a social support due to childhood bullying. Moreover, it is found that victims of bullying tend to earn less than their peers. Brown, Taylor (2008) stated that poorer educational attainment of victims in childhood may have effects on income across adulthood.
One the other hand students who bully others also often experience short and long-term effects such as decreased academic achievement (GPA), excessive drinking, below performance in employment. Most of the bullies experience mental health difficulties. One study found that nearly one third had attention deficit disorder, 12.5% had depression and oppositional conduct disorder (Kumpulainen, Rimpela and puura, 2001; seealso, kaltiala-heino, rimpela and, 2000) Since bullies tend to be very arrogant they are more likely to display aggression towards their future partner and children in their adulthood. Robert (2000) stated that students who bully others are more likely to display aggression towards their spouses and are more likely to use severe physical punishment on their children. In addition, studies have found that by age 30 bullies are very likely to have more criminal conviction (Glew et al., 2000; Olweu’s, 1995). When considered the reason behind school shooting and gun violence there has always been a connection to bullying. Most of the school shooters had a history of being a bully-victim. Kopaz (2005) conducted a survey and found that bullies had carried weapons to school, used alcohol and engaged in physical fight at school. These highly troubled aggressive victims can be at high risk of becoming school shooters. Bullying that happens at school can cause great impact to the country and downgrade economy and development drastically.
Physcal and phycological abuse causes lifelong ill-health particularly for children which could even result to early death. Many leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke, cancer are the results of victims of violence adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol, and drug due to bullying and other social issues. Plemmons (2018) stated that suicide attempts have double since 2008(Megan Meier Foundation). Bullying could be one of the reasons for the suicide attempts of youngsters and maybe in future if preventive measures are successful the suicide rate may reduce. Although eradicating bullying completely in school environments especially in developed countries such as USA, can be a little challenging test, it can be reduced to a slighter percentage by taking in the preventive measures and implementing them in a positive manner. Having an anti-bullying environment in schools can help children develop a good self-esteem which in return would reduce suicide rates and school shootings and moreover help create good citizens to the country
Bullying can be prevented by a number of methods which can be developed collaboratively with students, parents, caregivers and even among wider school community. Olweus bullying prevention program is the most popular program for addressing bullying which mainly targets students in elementary and middle school and depends on teachers and school staff for execution. It is in the hands of the school staffs, students and wider school circle members to take actions to prevent bulling in schools. This can be done by training and engaging both teachers and students in anti-bullying programs and awareness programs. schools can organize special lecture sessions by inviting psychologist, councillors, and talk about types of bullying, steps to stand against bullying, how to report bullying, how to seek help from elders and also about increasing self esteem in a positive manner to prevent bullying. Furthermore, living in a technological advances era, schools can also take steps and install cctv, security camera through school premises and also a surveillance camera to increase the safety and security and it plays a major role in preventing bullying.