A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that not only do the victims of bullying suffer long term effects of bulling, but in fact so do the bullies. The study was based on a sample of students from 11 different counties of North Carolina (not necessarily a snippet of the population at large) and looked to test whether bullying or being the victim of bullying predicts psychiatric problems in adulthood. The study took into account documented childhood psychiatric problems already existing and family hardships to see if any patterns or correlations could be found.
The public at large categorizes bullies as being arrogant, with low self-esteem/self-worth, poor relationships in the home, and a need to feel popular and powerful. However, this study concludes that the long term effects are much worse. Bullies are at an elevated risk for antisocial personality disorder later in adulthood. This disorder is characterized by persistent disregard and disrespect of others and the violation of the rights of others that begins in childhood and continues into adulthood. In general the person has no regard for right or wrong. They tend to lie without thinking twice, have violent tendencies, and have extreme difficulty fulfilling daily of tasks in a family, work or school environment. They also have a greater likelihood of dying at an early age.
This study further identifies the need for counseling intervention for both the victims and the perpetrator. I am not saying that consequences for actions are not appropriate. However, suspending a student for bullying does not in fact deter nor stop the behavior from continuing. Schools need to better recognize the need of consequences but also for behavior modification. This can only be achieved with qualified counseling. It is common that the victim will receive attention from the counseling office but clearly the bully is a victim in another way and is need of help.
William E. Copeland, PhD; Dieter Wolke, PhD; Adrian Angold, MRCPsych; E. Jane Costello, PhD. Adult Psychiatric Outcomes of Bullying and Being Bullied by Peers in Childhood and Adolescence
JAMA Psychiatry. 2013;():1-8. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.504.