Bullying is not a new reality. However, the effects of bullying and the psychology behind it are being examined more thoroughly in the wake of teen suicides and increasing mental health disorders in adolescents nationwide who have been bullied past their breaking points. A 2011 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 20 percent of teens nationwide report having been bullied at school within the past 12 months. With summer coming to an end and school starting up, research indicates it is essential to raise awareness on the long-term effects of bullying on children and adolescents.
Involvement in bullying in any way greatly affects an individual’s mental health, whether he or she is a bully, is being bullied or plays both roles at various times, a persona specialists refer to as the “bully-victim.” According to a 2015 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry online medical journal, children who are bullied “by peers in childhood had generally worse long-term effects on young adults’ mental health” than children who were victims of domestic violence. These effects include anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms. The School Health Promotion Study determined that, among Finnish students ages 14 to 16, long-term mental health consequences of bullying were more commonly found in bully-victims than in children who were solely bullies or victims. Eating disorders were equally associated with all roles in the bullying paradigm.
The rise of technology has paved the way for cyberbullying, a relatively new and dangerous alternative to picking on someone in the playground that is disturbingly prevalent in today’s climate. This includes “catfishing,” or pretending to be someone else online, as well as taking and posting unflattering or sexually exploitative photos of victims on social media, harassing through texts or social media accounts among other forms of technology-enabled bullying. One case that caught the nation’s attention was that of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who killed himself in 2010 after being sexually exploited online by his roommate. Dr. Young-Shin Kim of Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center conducted an international meta-analysis in 2008 and found that there were strong correlations between bullying and suicidal thoughts and/or actions among children and adolescents in nearly all of the studies reviewed. Dr. Kim states, “Now that we see there’s a likely association, we can act on it and try to prevent it.”
Though it is commonly swept under the rug and not taken seriously, bullying in any form can have a significant impact on your teenager’s long-term mental health. If your child is bullying others or is being victimized, help is available. White River Academy is a school for adolescent males struggling with mental health disorders, behavioral issues, substance abuse or dual diagnosis. Call our 24/7 hotline today at 866-520-0905 to be connected with a professional.