By Dr. Nina Radcliff
Bullying has been a part of society but today’s school environments are experiencing more incidents coupled with the continuing rise of Internet and Smartphone use—setting in motion a horrific new reality for our nation’s students. The facts are staggering, with the impact on lives deeply concerning! As well, bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. And there are mounds of studies showing that it is linked to negative outcomes including impact on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being, both in the short-term and lasting long into adulthood. Bullying is not just bad for kids at the time, but bad for everybody, always.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2016, one in every five students report being bullied. And, the majority (64%) of children do not report it. Sadly, the facts are that everyday an estimated 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied. Add to this, reports estimate 35% of kids are being threatened online. In our internet-powered age, cyberbullying has escalated it to an extremely sophisticated and perilous type of social harassment.
Anyone who is bullied feels powerless and their self-identity as a competent person who is able to protect and see themselves in the world, becomes wounded. As well, although an incident of bullying may have occurred many years ago, the damage to the individual’s self-concept may remain. As an adult, victims of bullying may have doubts about their ability to handle social situations, to manage incidences of conflict or doubts about their worth. These feelings of weakness or incompetence can haunt them in their education, their work lives and in their relationships.