Bullying is a major problem in today’s society and is the cause of many mental and emotional problems that both adolescents and adults face across the globe. This past summer I was a camp counselor and one of my campers had shown signs of a child who was being bullied, such as fear of speaking out and the fear of being in groups. Eventually, she confessed to me that a group of older boys at her school had been physically and emotionally bullying her and her brother. The bullying ranged from mean words, to pushing, punching, and throwing into lockers. Thankfully, my camp was able to provide help to her and her family.
This is why advocating against bullying is so important—by standing up and taking the anti-bullying pledge, you can help other students who may not be able to defend themselves. We all need to be advocates against bullying, because bullying decreases the self-esteem of children and can have detrimental effects on their future mental and emotional capabilities, and because it is our duty to help those who cannot help themselves.
Bullying is detrimental to the self-esteem of children and adolescents. In Christopher Henrich’s article in the 2015 "Journal of Early Adolescence," he writes that there is a distinct correlation between low self-esteem and victims of bullying. Since our brains do not mature until the age of 25, many times, we cannot fully process information that is being presented to us, or we may configure it in an inaccurate way. So, when a child is bullied, either in a physical form such as pushing, or an emotional form such as name-calling, the effects on the child are more emotionally significant, because their brains are not fully matured.
For example, if someone said to you, “you’re stupid,” you could probably logically discount that because of various reasons: you are attending an accredited university, you have a job, you are getting a college degree, etc. But when a child is told this, it’s going to be rooted into them that what their peers are saying are true, because that is what can be emotionally understood. This may lead to self-loathing or the feeling of helplessness, which can lead to social withdrawal and social anxiety, further harming a child’s self-esteem.
We all know the potential physical effects on a child who is being bullied. Some examples may be black eyes, bruises, headaches, and stomachaches. But there are more deeply rooted problems that are often overlooked. In a 2005 poll conducted by the U.S Department of Justice, a group of 12-18-year-olds were questioned, with the outcome showing that 28 percent reported that they had been bullied at their school in the past six months. Children who are bullied can experience many negative physical and mental health issues.
Some effects of bullying include depression, anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, thoughts of suicide, the inability to sleep or eat, and a loss of interest in activities that they used to once enjoy. There is a major probability that these issues may persist even into adulthood, which is a major concern. Other issues include decreased academic achievement, lower GPAs and testing scores, and low school participation. Bullied students are more likely to skip and drop out of school.
Andrea Neblett, in her article "Bullying Affects Children’s Mental Health" reviewed by the Medical Advisory Board, states that of the 54 percent of children who are categorized as victims of bullying each year, nearly 14 percent had broad psychosis-like symptoms, and 11.5 percent had intermediate symptoms. (Broad being self-harm and thoughts of suicide, intermediate being weight loss, trouble sleeping, etc.) As you can see, bullying can effect someone in more than just one aspect of their life.
While one child may have one symptom, another may have five, seven, or nine different negative effects of the bullying they are suspected to be enduring. This is why we need to advocate for these kids—we need to stand up for them so that they can retain normal physical, emotional and social lifestyles, so that childhood bullying will not stop them from happiness in the future.
It is our duty as peers and citizens to help others who can’t help themselves. If we see something going on that we know is not right, we need to step forward and do something.
We need to do something because if we were the ones being bullied, we would want someone to advocate for us.
Now, some people believe that stepping in on a situation where someone is being bullied is not something that others should get involved in. Some believe that it is not their concern, or that they do not want to jeopardize their own safety by getting involved. Other people say it is hard to find a need to advocate for people who are being bullied when it is okay for famous comedians to say "funny" derogatory and offensive things about a person or group of people. But just because they may for laughs, doesn’t make it morally okay for us to look the other way when we see something happening right in front of us. Again, if you were being bullied, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for you?
Bullying is a social justice issue, and it’s easy for you to stand up and advocate today! I encourage everyone to go online and take the NEA’s Bully Free pledge today, like I did, to become an advocate for students around the world in the fight against bullying. And if you see bullying going on at your school or in the workplace, help put a stop to it. You could be the person that starts a chain reaction. Not only could you change someone’s life for the better, you might just be able to save one too.