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Part 3: Bullying effects hinder students

This is a three-part feature that explores the impact and effects of bullying, both in person and online. Some names in the articles have been witheld for privacy purposes. One part of this three-part series will be published every three weeks. This installment is the last of the three-part feature series. This article will focus on the long-term and short-term effects of bullying.

For the previous installments read the Feb. 1 article, Part 1: Aggressive behavior discouraged and Feb. 22 article, Part 2: Online bullying increases in schools (VIDEO).

Bullying takes place everyday across the United States, but few students or parents are aware of the lasting effects that the incidents can cause. Cyber bullying especially can have negative consequences for the bullies, bullied and even the families and friends involved.

According to the National Association of Secondary School Principles (NASSP), bullying procedures should be taught and enforced in every school. As bullying has become one of the more common causes for adolescent suicides, the NASSP provides their article, “Bullying and Youth Suicide: Breaking the Connection” by Richard Lieberman and
Katherine C. Cowan. The NASSP says bullying can hinder students from many aspects in life, including learning.

“Bullying is predatory and antagonistic behavior that contributes to the silent misery of millions of students and puts some at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” NASSP reported. “Bullying also undermines the quality of the learning environment for all students. Anyone can be a target of bullying, but certain populations of students are especially vulnerable to developing suicidal ideation and behaviors as a result of bullying.”

A sophomore, whose name has been withheld, experienced both cyber and physical bullying over the past year. She is now able to see the effects that the constant insults had on her self esteem.

“At first, bullying didn’t affect me,” she said. “The more I heard the same insult, the more I started to believe all the things that people were saying about me. It ruined my self esteem. Short term, I was afraid to really be myself. Long term, those comments will always be in my mind; I can’t forget.”

With the support of good friends and family, she was able to focus on who she was, rather than who others were telling her to be.

“I just finally realized that I was a good person, not the person they said I was,” she said. “I had good friends and I focused on that instead. I encourage other kids, especially those who are being bullied, to make sure not to lose your personality. Parents just really need to be aware of what is going on.”

DeAnna Avery, M.S., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, lists the many short term and long term effects that bullying can cause on a student. These conditions can hinder students later on in life, academically and socially.

“The short term effects of a youth being bullied can be sleeping problems, nightmares, poor appetite, headaches, stomach aches, distractibility or difficulty concentrating, appearing sad and/or lonely, overall nervousness and restlessness,” Avery said. “Long term effects of bullying are: increase in anxiety, depression, insecurity, negative self-image, poor self-confidence, an increase in being more quiet, careful and sensitive and having few or no friends with increasing social isolation. The most harmful and potentially dangerous effect of bullying is that it puts some students at risk for suicidal thoughts, feelings and even behaviors.”

One of the most extreme results of bullying would be for a student to commit suicide. According to the NASSP, students who have been the victim of bullying are much more likely to have this fate. Though bullying can not be pinpointed as the only cause for suicide, it contributes to the build-up.

“Cyberbullying victims are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as youth who have not experienced being bullied online,” NASSP reported. “Usually, it takes a trigger or a precipitating event to flip the switch, which is often mistakenly labeled the ?cause? of the suicide. Research indicates numerous precipitating events that could spark suicidal ideation, but for youth, triggers most often involve a loss of some kind.”

As a therapist, Avery is well aware of how long it can take to reverse the damage that a bully can cause. The sooner the bullying can be stopped, the quicker the student can heal the dammage, Avery said.

“Research has found that prolonged bullying can cause issues such as anxiety, depression and socialization difficulties, which can last for years and/or into adulthood,” Avery said. “Just like any problem, the quicker the problem is identified, addressed appropriately by the school and parents, and the bullying is stopped, the quicker the student can heal. The longer the bullying takes place, especially without an intervention, the more severe and long lasting the symptoms and effects of bullying will occur.”

For the bullies, the more they continue to pick on their peers, the less guilt they will feel over time. Some may not even realize they are bullying another student, Avery said.

“The longer the cyberbullying occurs, the less they feel guilty about their involvement and behavior,” Avery said. “If you are talking negatively about someone, on the internet, texting, or in person, and the subject of the discussion doesn?t directly affect you, then you might be participating in not only gossip, but also bullying behavior. Gossiping is often the first step towards being a bully.”

If you feel like you are the victim of bullying, or are having suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline at 1800.273.8255 and report the bullying at StopBullying.gov and report it to the campus office.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @TyninFries. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more features, read the March 14 article, Feather highlights: ‘Life Chats with Deb’ blog.

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