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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014

The 10 (Life)Long Lasting Effects of Bullying

Being bullied is not a pleasant thing that can happen to anyone. Threats, pranks, or harsh words can linger to a victim’s mind long enough to cause emotional distress, anxiety, and fear. A child can wake up in the middle of the night, worried of tomorrow’s school day as it presents another opportunity to come face-to-face with his bully. Walking through the main doors of the school to his classroom is a struggle because at any moment, his bully might attack him.  If you think that these examples are just the ones that a bullied child faces, you may want to look further beyond the incident and see what lies ahead for a victim of bullying, especially when the victim is your own child.

Here are the long-term effects of bullying that you need to know in order for you to take steps against it:

Allowing your child to play freely and safely in the playgrounds can help reduce bullying and help establish your 
child’s social relations. Photo by David Robert Bliwas via Flickr, Creative Commons

1. A Bullied Child’s Immune System is Weaker 

Bullying can have long lasting implications to a child’s health and he may continue to experience it as he grows up. Frequently bullied children may experience backaches, stomach aches, injuries that require medical care, and dizziness. The health problems can accumulate and may worsen over time.

2. A Bullied Child Is Likely to Battle Anxiety

Research shows that children who experienced school bullying in their childhood years showed patterns of general anxiety and depression. They develop low self-esteem and their confidence decreases as they grow up.

3. A Bullied Child Has Difficulty in Socializing 

Research experts note that victims of bullying at young age had difficulty holding on to meaningful relationships such as marriage, friendships and closer ties with their parents when they grow up. A bullied child can feel that he may not gain anything from building new social relationships because of negative relationships back when he was still a child. They also find it hard to trust others, since they always think that other people might harm them or abuse them.

Open communication is key to combating the beast called bullying. Photo by kingary via Flickr, Creative Commons

4. A Bullied Child May Have Issues With Letting Go 

Bullied children who are more vulnerable may find it difficult to forget negative experiences that they felt when they were bullied and they may continue to hang on to those worst memories even as they grow up. They even remember more vividly the bad scenario that they are in if they don’t have a good environment and if they don’t have a strong family support.

5. A Bullied Child’s Career Growth May Be Slower 

Alongside being disconnected with the people around him, a bullied child may find it difficult to work when he grows up. He can also find it hard to stay in a job, allowing him to switch jobs every now and then. Mike Sarkany, at 57, has been involved in a different series of jobs. At work, he became a clerk, programmer, a bank teller, cook and warehouse supervisor. He claims to lose work because his workmates would think of him as someone who can’t fit in, since he doesn’t want to associate with anybody.

6. A Bullied Child Can Be Drug-Dependent 

Children who were bullied, and at the same time became bullies themselves (also known as bully-victims) had the most negative long term effects, research points out. They are more likely to dwell into smoking, drinking, and drug abuse together with the “pure bullies” or those who just initiated the bullying. Children who are “bully-victims” may indicate lack of control of emotions or healthy coping tendencies.

7. A Bullied Child Is More Likely to Commit a Legal Offense 

Bully-victims also have the tendencies of developing illegal behaviors in the long run. The lasting effects of bullying can allow them to be involved in behaviors such as fighting, burglary, lying or being involved in violent relationships.

8. A Bullied Child Can Develop Certain Phobias 

Experts reveal that bullied children are at risk of agoraphobia, or the extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places. This can hinder them from going out of their homes, meeting new people, and exploring different places. A bullied child may always want to just stay in his comfort zone, rather than taking risks to experience new things.

9. A Bullied Child May Be Troubled With Paranoia 

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons states that, "Even when they become older and become successful in their business or their professional endeavor, they still may be struggling to sort of overcome feelings of inferiority or being the target of derisive behavior, derisive comments and jokes." This can continue to persist and a child may continue to display inferiority that will last a lifetime in different aspects of his life.

10. A Bullied Child May Have Increased Suicidal Rate Tendencies 

In order to stop the negative feelings a bullied child feels, he or she may entertain suicidal thoughts just to solve the problem. This is the worse thing that can happen to your child—killing himself. Failed attempts may allow the bullied child to continue trying until he is able to achieve his goal. Even as he grows up, he may continue to nurse the idea of taking his own life.

Undo The Detriments of Bullying, One Play at a Time 

Allowing your child to play freely and safely in the playgrounds can help reduce bullying and help establish your
child’s social relations. Photo by David Robert Bliwas via Flickr, Creative Commons
Experts recommend more supervised playtime as one of the solutions for being bullied or preventing children from acquiring its long term effects. Lauren McNamara, an educational psychology assistant professor at Brock university in Canada suggests more play activities which are optional and the goal is to resolve conflicts productively, including everyone on the playground. The interventions had good results, having less conflict, more involvement of kids to different physical activities and better student behavior in the classroom. “When kids feel connected and accepted they will engage more effectively with each other, feel better, negotiate play more effectively. We need to help them do this; they are struggling on their own.”, Professor McNamara shares.

For bullying not to cause the lasting scars in a child’s life, parents should always keep the communication lines open between them and their kids. Create a good environment at home by ensuring your child of your support by displaying love, affection and trust. This allows him to feel secured and safe to open up things about his life. Have a strong stand against bullying by teaching them why bullying is wrong, and how to identify such cases at school or at play.

Parents and teachers can address bullying issues that they can’t otherwise discuss openly with their children through quality playtime. Freely talk to them in fully accessible playgrounds which does not only make them feel assured of your support but it can also be a place where they can establish good social interactions with other kids. As parents, be keen for signs of your child’s behavior that may lead to a lifetime of being chained to the beast called bullying.

Learn about the author: Jennifer Holmes

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