There have always been bullies and targets of bullies, but the intensity (and therefore the impact) of bullying has escalated dramatically over the past decade. Bullying is never a single victim occurrence. This poor behavior has much more of an impact than many people realize. Not only is the victim impacted, but so is the bully him or herself, the parents of both the bully and the victim, as well as society as a whole. The following are just some of the ways that bullying impacts people.
For the Victim
Obviously, most people would think about the victim first when they consider the impacts of bullying behavior and this person is certainly going to be affected very negatively. Being the target of a bully can lead to incredible amounts of stress and anxiety which can affect every area of that person’s life. They may not be able to really focus on much else as their mind is filled with fear and worry.
Depression often sets in, especially if the bullying goes on for more than just a very short period of time. The victim may begin to feel like he or she is alone and without protection, wondering why people don’t seem to care about their feelings and their safety. The bully is almost certainly speaking words of degradation to and/or about the victim which are going to lead to the victim questioning his or her self-image. This can cause problems that range from mild to very severe.
In extreme cases of bullying, which are becoming more common, victims can suffer physical injury. The bully may escalate from using words to do harm to the victim to using physical aggression. This may be pushing and shoving or it may be much worse than this. There are even times when a victim of bullying will lose his or her life, whether at the hands of the bully or their own.
For the Bully
The bully, although not as obviously impacted negatively by the behavior that he or she is choosing to engage in, is not immune to the pain that is a part of the cycle. Bullies suffer from low self-esteem, the very reason that they have to bully in order to make themselves feel more powerful, but this low self-esteem is not cured or even reduced by the behavior. The bullying might make them feel more important or in control temporarily, but it is only a band-aid to cover the wounds of pain that are continuing to fester and grow inside of themselves.
In reality, the bully is going to find that he or she has no true friends, only people who pretend to be friends in order to avoid becoming a target. The bully is not going to build a healthy sense of self by treating others poorly and over time, he or she is going to suffer negative consequences of the behavior. He or she may face legal consequences, emotional consequences, social consequences, or all of these. This will be especially true as the bully gets older.
For the Families
Both the bully and the victim will have families who will be impacted by the bullying activity. The parents of the victim will have to watch their son or daughter cope with emotional pain and will have to do everything that they can to stop the behavior and provide protection for their child. The parents of the bully may have to deal with guilt regarding the poor behavior of their child. They will also need to deal with the discipline of their child who is behaving in this manner. Their may be school meetings necessary, legal consequences, and any number of other issues that come up which parents are necessarily involved in whether or not they had anything at all to do with the bullying directly.
Society as a whole is not immune to the negative impact that bullying brings about, either. Society deals with the costs of housing bullies whose behavior leads to a stint with the criminal justice system. They shoulder the costs associated with uninsured individuals who will need medical care, whether psychological or physical, as a result of bullying. Society is also affected due to the limits that bullying can place on the futures of the victims and the sense of anxiety that occurs because there are always chances of becoming a target, or of having a loved one become a target.
Bullying is a very serious issue and one that impacts many more people than just the victim and the bully. The tentacles of bullying reach out to everyone in one way or another. No one is immune to the impact that bullying has and for this reason, it is the responsibility and the necessity of everyone to do all that is possible to put an end to bullying.