Bullying: What is it?
Bullying is a repeated pattern of cruelty to one person by an individual or group of people. Bullying affects people of all ages, and it can be extremely detrimental to a person’s psychological well being. But did you know that, in addition to affecting the victim, bullies are affected as well? The reality is that bullies are suffering more than we know. We focus on protecting people from being hurt from bullying and forget about the bullies. These individuals likely have mental health issues. Their behavior (though inexcusable) is likely impacted by their mental health conditions. Their cruelty requires attention, and it’s up to parents, teachers, and therapists to get to the bottom of the cause of a bully’s behavior.
Immediate Effects of Bullying for the Bully
Much of the time, when we talk about the effects of bullying, we focus on the victim. A bully can also experience negative psychological consequences for what they’re doing. As a result of bullying, an individual may face suspension from school, is at an increased risk for violent behavior and substance abuse has a tough time in interpersonal or social relationships. They might struggle to create connections with teachers or other students. They’re at risk for poor academic performance and missing school. Bullies are victims as well in the sense that their behavior is self-sabotaging. They’re certainly hurting others and hurting themselves. In addition to the risk for Depression placed on a victim of bullying, the bully can also suffer from Depression, anxiety disorders, and other psychiatric issues.
The Long-Term Psychological Effects of Bullying for the Bully
Bullying has long-term consequences for the victims and the bullies. That’s why it’s crucial to look at both parties involved and address the behavior. If left untreated, a bully suffers psychologically. Not just immediately, but long-term. It’s hard for a victim of bullying to speak up, and it’s also tricky for a bully to admit that they have a problem hurting others. They might conceal their behavior and be pervasive about hurting other people. As a result, they could be at risk for suicide and chronic issues with Depression. They’re also at increased risk for long-term self-harm behaviors, behavior that is self-sabotaging, or self-destructive, and they could develop PTSD. It’s important to note that it’s highly likely that most bullies were bullied themselves and that they’re likely carrying wounds from that experience. It’s critical to acknowledge that the victim is valid in their pain and that the bully is as well. When we try to stop bullying, it’s vital to reach out to the bullies, see what’s going on with them, and help them to access appropriate mental health treatment.
Bullying and Therapy
If you see bullying occurring, you might feel powerless to stop it, but some things can help. One intervention that can help people who are bullies is to get them into counseling. A bully needs to have their mental health addressed so that they can start to understand why they’re engaging in their behavior. They need help gaining the emotional insight to learn how to cope with their pain and begin to heal, especially if they’re dealing with something like depression or PTSD. Any mental health issue can be a severe consequence for a bully. If you notice someone who’s hurting other people, instead of judging them, attempt to reach out to them and help them get the support that they need. Bullying is something that we need to face head-on, and to do that, we need to address the victims and the person using bullying behaviors as well.