In the following research paper I would like to discuss the causes and effects of bullying for an individual. Throughout this work I will rely not only upon academic sources, but also on my personal experience of being bullied.
Growing up in an unfavorable environment, where one is not treated with respect and decency, something that each human being deserves, can deteriorate not only one’s world-view and faith in humanity, but also cause long-lasting health problems.
It is quite common nowadays for teenagers and young adults to experience uneasiness in new circumstances and before performance. Yet, it is incredibly stressful to live with constant background anxiety, which is there even when a situation is not potentially harmful.
In high school, I was bullied by my peers for the smallest quirks of character – the way I talked seemed excessive to them, which lead to comments and threats to “shut up” on a regular basis. Time has passed, yet patterns which have become embedded in my behavior are difficult to cope with. Prior to starting a conversation with others, even my close friends or relatives, I experience intense worry and self-doubt. Questions such as: “should I really speak?”, “should I take up space and waste their time?”, “what will they think of me?” flood me.
Crippling self-doubt, caused by years of bullying, does not only reflect on the way I talk, but has made a large impact on my thinking patterns, too. When I pass a group of strangers who are laughing, I instantly assume that they find me funny and are laughing at me; yet, sometimes, I understand that this is probably just an illusion. Worrying is not limited to the emotional aspect only.
These consequences of being bullied can last a whole lifetime, and without proper help one is bound to feel shame for natural human desires, even if it is considered a fundamental right – to speak, to love, to enjoy one’s freedom.
In the next part of this research paper, I would like to explore possible causes of bullying, relying on academic articles and research. First of all, it is important to define the concept of bullying. According to Jan and Husain, “bullying may include verbal and physical assaults, threats, ‘jokes’ or language, mockery and criticizing , insulting behavior and facial expressions” (43).
In their article, Moon et al. attempt to draw a parallel between bullying and criminological theories (2). Moreover, they describe that self-control is one of the key criteria when it comes to explaining bullying. In general, bullies tend to have much lower levels of self-control; this, in turn, is impacted to a significant degree by parental practices. Effective parenting increases levels of self-control and, thus, lowers impulsivity. On the other hand, “bullies are more likely to be impulsive, to lack empathy for others, and to be easily provoked, all consistent with low self-control” (Moon et al. 5). Other factors, such as legitimacy of violence in one’s home or circle of friends, association with delinquent peers, conflict within the family, punishment imposed by parents or teachers, anger problems, and experiences of having been bullied in the past, also correlate closely with bullying. This was statistically demonstrated in a longitudinal study presented in the abovementioned article (Moon et al. 15-20). Importantly, the authors conclude that, based on previous research, school bullying “has damaging psychological and physical effects on victims and bullies alike” (Moon et al. 5).
Another article by Jan and Husain presents the main causes of bullying based on research findings (52). The study has shown that power fullness, revenge seeking, and aggression are the key causes of bullying. On most part, this research presents students’ perception of the different causes of bullying in school (Jan and Husain 47). Given that this article refers to the students’ outlook on bullying, it is also important that actual, not presumed causes are further explored. Essentially, when dealing with such topics as bullying, it is necessary that insight into the bully’s background, home environment, and character is gained.
In another article, Donegan emphasizes the following: “research indicates that the harm inflicted by bullying, whether physical or psychological, has many implications and can result in a snowball effect of lasting painful emotions and negative impacts” (36). The author explores both, traditional bullying and how it has transformed into cyberbullying, which is equally damaging. In addition, a reference is made to the United States vs. Lori Drew case, with the author calling for new laws that would protect youth from cyberbullying, which has drastically increased due to technological progress (Donegan 40). In my opinion, this case exemplifies how destructive bullying can be and to what extremes one can go to escape the painful world of emotional abuse.
Consequently, all of the abovementioned research shows how bullying undermines an individual’s self-esteem and makes one feel weak and worthless. As for the causes of bullying, research findings show that perpetrators often share certain personal characteristics. In their article, Hershcovis et al. explore the origins and effects of bullying among adults, more particularly, in the work setting (5). Some common bully characteristics are brought forward by the authors. For example, narcissism, vindictiveness, anger outbursts (Hershcovis et al. 5). At the same time, the authors emphasize that perpetrators are usually people with low self-esteem and a history of having been bullied at one or another point in their lives (5). In my opinion, such behavior can be deemed as “acting out” – when one identifies with an aggressor from his/her past and, later on, choses a victim who is showered with anger outbursts.
Another source explains that children who become bullies are prone to being witnesses of violent scenes at home; also, lack of parental supervision and loving relationships with parents is observed (“Bullying among Children and Youth”). As a result, people, in general, and children, in particular, practice bullying when they feel deeply insecure and unloved.
In conclusion, those who have suffered emotional or physical abuse must deal with its consequences even when the danger has long passed. Research has shown, that bullying, in the most severe cases, can lead to suicide on part of the victims. Among the lesser extremes, those who are affected by bullying can be psychologically traumatized by it and even suffer later on from PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). When nothing is done to stop emotional or physical aggression, its psychological effects can last all of one’s life, unless psychotherapeutic intervention is thought. Thus, it is best to further investigate the core reasons of this problem. Since research shows that bullies often feel insecure due to having faced some form of abuse or threat earlier in life, it is key that both bullies and victims receive appropriate psychological support and care. Hence, it is important that both cause and effect are effectively addressed.
- “Bullying among Children and Youth.” United States: Department of Health and Human Sciences, http://www.creducation.org/resources/SBN_Tip_14.pdf. Accessed 16 March 2017.
- Donegan, Richard. “Bullying and Cyberbullying: History, Statistics, Law, Prevention and Analysis.” The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, vol. 3, no. 1, 2012, pp. 33-42.
- Hershcovis, Sandy, et al. “Workplace Bullying: Causes, Consequences, and Intervention Strategies.” United States: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2015. Print.
- Jan, Afroz, and Shafqat Husain. “Bullying in Elementary Schools: Its Causes and Effects on Students.” Journal of Education and Practice, vol. 6, no. 19, 2015, pp. 43-56.
- Moon, Byongook, et al. “Causes of School Bullying.” Crime & Delinquency, 20 May 2008, pp. 1-28.