Bullying can be defined as an individual who has the intention to do harm to another individual whether it be physical or verbal. Numerous studies have been organized to examine the effects that bullying has on adolescents. These studies have focused on the relationship between bullying and substance abuse, primarily alcohol use, and the relationship adolescent bullying has with adolescent suicide and victimization. In a study done by Ringwalt & Shamblen (2012), it was found that approximately one-quarter of the respondents had used alcohol in the last 30 days. To result in suicidal behavior, adolescents who are accustomed to any physical and psychological pain may develop suicidal desire and capability (Litwiller & Braush, 2013). It is hypothesized that there is a positive correlation between bullying and the negative effects on adolescents. According to Jan & Husain (2015), the most common forms of bullying that are present in the lives of adolescents are insults, name-calling, hitting, direct aggression, theft, threats, and social exclusion or isolation.
Forms of Bullying
To many, the most common forms of bullying are cyber, verbal, exclusion, and physical. Cyber bullying occurs online and is typically done outside of school hours. Cyber-bullies post negative things about another adolescent online with the intention to embarrass the chosen adolescent and cause them great psychological pain and embarrassment. In a study conducted by Litwiller & Braush (2013), they intended to measure how frequently adolescents were bullied by other adolescents with the use of electronics. Litwiller & Braush (2013) asked the participants of their study if there had ever been a rumor spread about them online or if there had ever been an inappropriate or provocative photo posted of them on any form of social media. They also asked if anyone had ever sent them a threat or aggressive message online. In their study, it was found that 23% of adolescents reported being a victim of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can be tricky to detect at times. The levels of cyber bullying are increasing day by day because it is difficult to measure among adolescents because the message displayed on the screen has a different meaning every time it is viewed (Litweller & Brausch, 2013).
Verbal bullying. Insults, name calling, and rude or inappropriate nicknames are what most associate with verbal bullying. Verbal bullying is one of the most common forms of bullying that are present in the lives of adolescents. Insults can include a wide variety of things. It can include rude comments about the clothes that they are wearing, their hair color, how attractive or unattractive they are, their sexual orientation, their weight, and their height. In a study conducted by Ringwalt & Shamblen (2012), they asked their participants to indicate the reason why they had been bullied in the last 30 days. One of the reasons that was common was that someone thought a specific adolescent was gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The other reasons that were identified were who they associated with, their physical characteristics, or their race or ethnic origin. These reasons are all examples of insults. Name calling and nicknames goes hand in hand with verbal bullying as well. A bully who name calls and creates nicknames for another adolescent will have a specific name for their chosen victim. This name could be based off their looks, something they have done, or because the bully thinks that it will cause the adolescent a great deal of psychological pain. The bully believes that since they are calling the adolescent a mean name, they will start to think and view themselves that way.
Exclusion bullying. Exclusion can be viewed as another common form of bullying. In schools, it is common for bullying to happen. Exclusion can be defined as leaving an individual out of a group of friends, an activity, or any social gathering. A bully would do this to make the adolescent who is left out feel alone and unwelcomed. The adolescent who has been excluded may feel as if there is something wrong with themselves and that is why they are not welcomed into their specific group. Overall, exclusion will lead an adolescent to have a significant amount of psychological pain.
Physical bullying. Physical bullying consists of anything that is physical. This includes hitting, slapping, and theft. Physical bullying is different than other common forms of bullying like cyber, verbal, and exclusion because instead of psychological pain, it is causing the adolescent physical pain. An example of physical bullying can include the bully shoving their victim into a locker, or giving their victim an old-fashioned wet-willy. Theft can be considered a form of physical bullying because it is taking something off of your person in order to cause harm to another.
Effects on Adolescents in Schools
When bullying is present in schools, the learning environment typically changes. Bullying among adolescents decreases their academic performance in classrooms ( Jan & Husain, 2015). Jan & Husain (2015) stated that adolescents who are both directly or indirectly involved in bullying are more likely to misbehave, have some sort of abuse, and are more absent from school. It is found that boys are more likely to be a victim of bullying than girls (Ringwalt & Shamblen, 2012). This means that boys often miss a significant amount of school compared to girls. This also means that boys are more often going to misbehave in school than the girls are expected to. Adolescents studying in schools where bullying is present often feel unsafe, overt behavior, and mistrust (Jan & Husain, 2015). Adolescents often feel unsafe because the bully may be using physically bullying in order to cause pain. Mistrust happens when adolescents feel that the school and administration does nothing about their policies against bullying.
Bullying is common in schools throughout the world. The adolescents who are bullied often find themselves having trouble concentrating in class and often develop learning difficulties ( Jan & Husain, 2015). The fear that comes with being a victim to bullying distracts adolescents in the classrooms. Since they are distracted, it is common to find that they are not focusing on the information that is being taught to them. This all affects their academic achievements because by not focusing on the information, they won’t be able to complete or understand the homework. Overall, bullying in schools has a negative impact on the adolescents that attend there.
Victimization due to bullying is known to generally be associated with or possibly predict adolescent alcohol and drug use (Litwiller & Braush, 2013). The experiences that an adolescent will receive from bullying will produce a negative psychological state. This will make the adolescent have an increased risk of substance abuse. In a study conducted by Ringwalt & Shamblen (2012), a group of adolescents were asked about alcohol use, including binge drinking, marijuana use, and inhalant use. Among the adolescents in this study, one-quarter had used alcohol in the past 30 days. Of this one-quarter, only half reported binge drinking. Adolescents also had used marijuana, inhalants and other drugs within the past 30 days. When adolescents are victims of bullying, they tend to try to find other ways to deal with the psychological pain that they are experiencing. This is what leads adolescents to start using and abusing drugs and alcohol.
Adolescent Suicide and Victimization
Bullying victimization has been found to be related with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression (Litwiller & Braush, 2013). When adolescents have low self-esteem, these adolescents show signs of thinking negatively, signs of sadness, are less able to take compliments, and oftentimes lack social skills when in social situations. Adolescents with low self-esteem tend to be anti-social when around others because they often think that they will be judged for what they say and who they are. Low self-esteem has been linked with peer victimization (Guerra, Williams & Sadek, 2011). According to Guerra, Williams & Sadek (2011), the typical victim for a bully is a nonassertive social isolate with low self-esteem. This adolescent is viewed as an easy target and does not stand up to bullies. On the other hand, adolescents with high self-esteem has been shown to protect adolescents from bullying because they are able to stick up for themselves unlike low self-esteem adolescents.
Adolescents who are being bullied or who have been bullied may often have a feeling of anxiety. Adolescents who have feeling of anxiety will often feel a sense of fear, nausea, trembling, excessive worry, lack of concentration, and racing and unwanted thoughts.These feelings will alter the way an adolescent will perform in school academics and achievements. If an adolescent has a lack of concentration due to anxiety, they will not perform as well as they usually would with their school work.
Girls who are victims to bullying are more likely to have their depression linked to substance abuse than boys (Ringwalt & Shamblen, 2012). With many adolescents, depression can be linked to suicidal behaviors and self-harm. Substance use may contribute to the normalization of physical pain and psychological anxiety associated with self-harm (Litwiller & Braush, 2013). Substance use may enable adolescents already experiencing suicidal desire to perform these behaviors and encourage self-harm behaviors. Adolescents often have the feeling of depression. When bullying is introduced into the life of an adolescent who is already experiencing feelings of lonesomeness, isolation, and awkwardness, it can cause for a great deal of self-harm and suicidal behaviors in the future. Adolescents may feel that there is not a way that they will be able to get any form of help besides abusing alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Adolescents in that state of mind will find that suicide or self-harming is the only option to make the psychological pain vanish.
Tendency For Bullying
It can be suggested that tendencies are among the causes that drive people to behave in certain ways (Sargin, 2017).Tendency is a natural inclination and a want to do something. Sargin (2017) suggests that gender is one of the reasons that gives a rise to bullying. Males display more intimidating behaviors than females. In order to prevent bullying, it should be clear to be able to understand and be aware of bullying tendencies. The results of a study that Sargin (2017) conducted, was in favor of preadolescents who were boys. Sargin (2017) stated that boys lack the ability to share their emotions, cause distress, and use force when bullying. It is then understood that in order for adolescents who are boys to stop bullying, they must learn how to appropriately express emotions like anger, develop empathic tendencies, learn skills of self-expression and communication and learn how to identify bullying tendencies for other adolescents and prevent bullying in the future.
Thompson & Leadbeater (2013) suggest that internalizing problems including depression affect approximately 10% to 20% of adolescents. Emotional support is important in the lives of adolescents who are victims to bullying. The feeling of love, empathy, and trust is essential to adolescents who are victimized. Young adolescents with an emotionally supportive best friend were found to be less likely to become a target for bullies ( Thompson & Leadbeater, 2013). Victims who reported having moderate levels of friend support also indicated that they had the least anxiety and depression.
- Guerra, N., Williams, K., & Sadek, S. (2011). Understanding bullying and victimization during childhood and adolescence: A mixed methods study. Childhood Development, 82(1), 295-310. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01556.x.
- Jan, A., & Husain, S. (2015). Bullying in elementary schools: Its causes and effects on students. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(19), 43-56.
- Litwiller, B., & Braush, A. (2013). Cyber bullying and physical bullying in adolescent suicide: The role of violent behavior and substance use. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 42, 675-684. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9925-5.
- Ringwalt, C., & Shamblen, S. (2012). Is there an association between adolescent bullying victimization and substance abuse. Journal of Drug Education, 42(4), 447-467. doi:10.2190/DE.42.4.e
- Sargin, N. (2017). A study on bullying tendencies among preadolescents. Journal of Education and Learning, 6(4), 209-216. doi:10.5539/jel.v6n4p209.
- Thompson, R., & Leadbeater, B. (2013). Peer victimization and internalizing symptoms from adolescence into young adulthood: Building strength through emotional support. Journal of research on Adolescence, 23(2), 290-303. doi:10.111/j.1532-7795.2012.00827.x.