Bullying of all kinds has become a prominent issue in the news, and putting a stop to widespread bullying has become a priority of various public awareness campaigns and legislative efforts. Despite these efforts, new research from Clemson University suggests that bullying, particularly in schools, is still a major problem.
The Clemson study looked at a representative sample of 2,000 Olweus Bullying Questionnaires selected from more than 200,000 questionnaires. The researchers found that around 22 percent of schoolchildren reported being bullied at least two or three times per month and that bullying was most prevalent in the third and fourth grades.
Bullying Often Goes Unreported In Schools
One of the challenges when it comes to stopping bullying is that the victims often do not report their experiences, either to peers or to authority figures. The Clemson study found that many schoolchildren did not report bullying because they were not confident that teachers or other authority figures would do anything to address the problem.
The researchers found that only 36 percent of the high school students believed that school officials would take action if bullying were reported. As a result, less than one-third of students in this age group who reported being bullied had reported their experiences to a school staff member.
Cyberbullying Less Common Than Other Forms Of Bullying
Cyberbullying has become a particularly widespread topic of media coverage and discussion. There have been a number of prominent stories in the news of teenagers suffering such extreme cyberbullying that they became suicidal. Social media sites present opportunities for bullying because they offer varying degrees of anonymity and little supervision, making it less likely that bullies will be caught and held accountable.
However, the students in the Clemson study actually reported less cyberbullying compared to other forms of bullying. While this form of bullying is certainly a problem, and likely a growing one, the results of this study suggest that concerns about cyberbullying should not draw attention away from the kind of bullying that has been around since before the digital age. Ending real-world bullying should remain just as much of a priority since it remains a major problem.
Bullying Affects Victims, Perpetrators, Bystanders
Bullying can have a serious impact on the mental health and behavior of those who are victimized by others. Depression and anxiety are common among bullying victims, and many young people in this situation also suffer sleep difficulties and withdraw from activities they used to enjoy. Performance and participation in school also frequently suffer, and people who are bullied are much more likely to drop out of school.
While this is reason enough to address widespread bullying, research has found that this behavior can also negatively impact those who bully others and even people who witness bullying.
Young people who get away with bullying are more likely to develop problems with alcohol and drug abuse, to have violent behavioral problems, to engage in early sexual activity, to drop out of school and to abuse romantic partners in adulthood.
Bystanders who repeatedly witness other people being bullied are also more likely to skip school, although not to drop out entirely. They suffer from more mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, and are more likely to develop substance use disorders. These individuals become indirect victims of bullying and can be plagued by the consequences for years.