Bullying has a lasting effect on its victims, including profound mental impacts. The general definition of bullying is repeated behavior with the intent of physical or phycological harm to a person. It can range from verbal insults to physical violence. Bullying also aims to control some aspects of the victims’ life and behavior. This element of power assertion is crucial, as it differentiates bullying from fighting. In fighting, people engaged are generally on the same power level. On the other hand, bullying is between parties of different power, which can come from social status, age, group size, and other factors. Thus, victims often develop a sense of powerlessness against the aggressor as the victims struggle to protect themselves. These mental issues and the normalization of abuse lead to even more bullying, as the perpetrators and victims attempt to cope with it in unhealthy ways. Thus, bullying became severe enough for many countries to consider it a public health and safety risk. Therefore, bullying has vast societal implications on a large adolescent population, resulting in more abuse and consequential mental illnesses.
Depression as a Common Effect of Bullying
One of the most common mental health illnesses for both the victims and assailants is depression. The absue and power imbalance causes a sense of helplessness in victims. This emotion and repeated physical and physiological trauma from the abuse form the foundations of the mental health issues in the later years. Furthermore, the perpetrators of abuse also suffer from emotional and mental distress before, during, and after bullying. Naveed et al. (2019) conducted a cross-sectional study of students ages 10-17 in Nawabshah, Pakistan. They surveyed both victims and perpetrators of bullying and found both groups to experience “adverse emotional and social consequences” (Naveed et al., 2019, p. 1). This result contradicts the previous assumption that the victims of bullying suffer the most in terms of phycological consequences. However, this conclusion shows the uniformity of the outcomes between both sides of bullying.
Mental Health Struggles of Bullying Perpetrators
Moreover, bullying offenders seem to bear even more implications for mental health illnesses. Surprisingly, Naveed et al. (2019) concluded that “Bully-perpetrators exhibited the greater severity of depressive symptoms due to distress in psychosocial functioning” (Naveed et al., 2019, p. 1). However, it also is in line with the recent research on bullying assailants that claims that they resort to attacks on their peers because of their present mental and other health issues. These problems only exacerbate as the abuse prolongs, worsening the mental state of the perpetrators. Furthermore, victims may also become the perpetrators in different cases. It also matches the assumption that the assailants come from the victimized state, as the common statistic shows the prevalence of family issues among them. In other words, it can be safely concluded that abuse causes more bullying and mental problems for every participant.
Bullying is undeniably a major societal issue, considering its pervasive nature and health risks. Both sides of bullying suffer from its mental health effects, commonly in the form of depression. This distress can lead to more harassment and consequent psychological illnesses, forming a circle of abuse. In other words, the perpetrators can display more prominent mental disorder characteristics. Moreover, victims can turn to bullying to cope with the trauma. Thus, bullying needs to be addressed on the societal level to mitigate its negative outcomes.
Naveed, S., Waqas, A., Aedma, K. K., Afzaal, T., & Majeed, M. H. (2019). Association of bullying experiences with depressive symptoms and psychosocial functioning among school going children and adolescents. BMC Research Notes, 12(1), 1-4. Web.