Bullying is something that many people have to endure at some stage of their lives, and because it is such a common issue, the seriousness of it is not always recognized. But bullying is a major cause of mental health problems in children and teenagers and many young people across the world take their lives every year because of bullying. There are also many long-term effects that bullying can have on a person. People who were bullied as children are more likely to suffer anxiety or depression as adults, have low self-esteem, and difficulty forming relationships. Because of the damage it can cause, bullying should be stopped as soon as it is identified, but this is not always straightforward for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there are many different forms of bullying, some of which can be difficult to recognize. Violent physical bullying is much easier to spot than other forms, not least because there is usually evidence after the incidents such as cuts and bruises. Pushing, hair pulling, and having water or liquids thrown at you however, leaves far less evidence.
Verbal abuse can do at least as much, if not more, damage as physical abuse, but can be much harder to deal with. This is because unless someone in authority such as a teacher or parent witnesses the name-calling themselves it can be nearly impossible to prove. It can often be the case of it being one person’s word against another, because it may not always be done in the presence of others. Even if others are present when the bullying takes place, they may be unwilling to speak out due to fear of the bully turning on them, or out of a desire to fit in and appear ‘cool’.
Other non-physical forms of bullying can be even harder to deal with, such as exclusion and the spreading of nasty rumours. The problem with these kinds of bullying is that they are often carried out by people the victims consider to be their friends. Even if the perpetrators are making the victim feel incredibly miserable, the victim may still see them as friends and possibly the only friends that they have, and let the bullying continue for months or even years. It’s also difficult to prove this kind of bullying and teenagers may feel that they will be belittled if they report being left out by their friends to figures of authority, not wanting to be seen as childish.
The fastest growing form of bullying in this technological age is cyber bullying, and this can also be difficult to deal with. In some ways it can be easier to collect evidence, as victims can keep messages that they have been sent from bullies. But victims often don’t know who to ask for help when they are experiencing cyber bullying. At school they know to approach a teacher but cyber bullying can be more difficult to deal with. While you can try to physically keep a bully away from their victim, it is hard to stop them ‘meeting’ in some way online.