The Impact of Bullying

It makes me sad to see that bullying is still such a big problem.  It seems to be getting worse instead of better, especially with social media and cell phones.  It doesn’t take much courage to send a nasty text message to someone or attack a person on social media.

What is it like to be a victim?

Victims feel helpless and often internalize their anger because they are too afraid to speak up.  Someone who is bullied may try to avoid school or hide out somewhere safe like the library.  People may tell the victim to “deal with it” or “get over it”, but they are so afraid they find it difficult to think of anything else.

The victims want to get away from the bullies, but can’t. They want help, but are unable to ask for it.  They wonder why everyone stands back watching the bully attack them verbally and physically. Why doesn’t anyone help?

The bullying does eventually stop and the victim will usually, over time, forgive the bullies for what they did. But the impact on the victim’s self esteem and the emotional damage is not easily fixed. It could take years for a victim to resolve the emotional damage which was, in part, caused by the bullying.

This is why there are so many efforts to stop bullying – victims and parents of victims speaking out.

What about the bully?

Why does someone become a bully? Maybe they have terrible home life – parents who pay little attention to them or abuse them. Is it possible that a bully may have social anxiety? Are they just full of fear? I believe that this could be true in some cases. Rather than internalizing their fear in social situations, they lash out on other kids. There are so many possible reasons…

I was thinking the other day, how might a parent – who was a bully – feel when their own child is bullied. This parent sees their child’s tears, sees the fear and feels the anger toward the bully. Does this parent feel regret for what they did when they were young? Do they feel guilty? Or did they forget about what they did to the other kids at school? A distant memory – easily forgotten…

My experiences…

Thinking back to my grade school and high school days, I said and did things I now regret. Being mean to someone, not allowing a classmate into my small group of friends – simple things which can really hurt another person… I know that God has forgiven me and I can choose to act differently now as an adult. I can choose to be kind.

And, yes, I was bullied as a child and these experiences contributed to my issues with social anxiety disorder. I did forgive the bullies and no longer dwell on the experiences as I did years ago. But I do have strong opinions about bullying and the impact it can have on people – both on the part of the victim and the bully.

Can we ever stop bullying?  Or will this trend continue to be part of our lives?

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