Anti-bullying awareness week
Bullying presents in many different forms and vary between demographics. It is important to recognise the consequences of bullying in order to understand the significance of why intervention is needed. For example, the transition from childhood to adulthood can be negatively impacted by the long-term effects of bullying. Adults who have been bullied report difficulty forming lasting relationships, integrating into work and being economically independent1.
BULLYING AMONGST CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE:
Children aged 5 – 12 reported they got bullied the most for their appearance (55%), followed by body shape (37%) and race (16%)2. Other factors that can increase the likelihood of bullying occurring can include; differences in race/faith, academic ability, gender identity and a lack of assertiveness/being shy3.
A similar trend in bullying can be found in adolescents whereby appearance is the greatest risk factor for bullying (57%). Additional factors include their interests/hobbies (40%), sexuality (20%) and their disability (11%)4. Teenagers who have been bullied report having low self-esteem (23%), suffer from depression (50%) and take up smoking as a smoking as a coping mechanism5.
Other types of bullying that is more common in teenagers is cyberbullying; this is any bullying that takes place online and/or via smartphone6. In 2017, a survey found the highest rates of cyberbullying occurred on Instagram (42%), followed by Facebook (37%)7. With an increasing number of young people using social media, it worrying to see that 71% of teens believe social networks aren’t doing enough to avoid cyberbullying.
BUT WHAT ABOUT ADULTS?
Bullying that happens in the workplace is more difficult to define. It is likely that several cases get unnoticed and therefore aren’t reported. Despite this, it’s believed that the rate of ill-treatment in the workplace is increasing in Britain. In 1998, 7% of employers reported receiving incidents relating to workplace bullying; this percentage rose to 11% in 20118.
What does workplace bullying look like?
Personal accounts from employees have reported they had experienced bullying in the form of:9
- …receiving unmanageable workload (47%),
- …having opinions/ideas ignored and being disrespected (40%)
- …being subject to violence in the workplace (6%)
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF BULLYING?
Overall health is poorer in children and adults who have been bullied. This is believed to be due to an alteration in physiological response to stress in these individuals. This can increase the risk of developing various mental health disorders. Early childhood bullying has been linked to the development of:10
– Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
– Psychotic experiences (e.g. hallucinations and delusions)
– Depression and/or anxiety, as well as suicidal ideations and attempts
Other effects include:
– Adults who have been bullied in childhood are more likely to earn less than their peers at the age of 50.
– In 2011, 16,000 young people missed school due to bullying in the UK. This is likely to result in lower educational qualifications and difficulty managing finance.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
When you see someone being bullied, it can also be distressing for you – only intervene when it’s safe. Don’t put yourself in danger by confronting the bully; almost half the time, challenging the bully can worsen the situation. Instead, it is more effective if you spend time with the victim and talk to them. Allowing them to have a safe space to talk about their circumstances can improve the situation by up to 41%11.
If you see someone being bullied online, one quick fix to help combat this is to report the comment/profile, which can help block the bully from the site. However, it’s also important to encourage young people to tell an adult if they are being bullied. This has proven to be the most successful strategy in dealing with the situation. It is also vital to ensure the right intervention is given for an effective outcome12. Checking in with the young person after some time to see if the bullying has stopped is an effective start to improving the situation.