Teen Behavior Violent Bullying

Bullying is not a behavior limited to young children. According to the New York Times, studies on teens and bullying in the U.S. indicate that nearly one third of teenagers have been either a victim of bullying or have engaged in bullying behavior. These studies have also found that incessant bullying has significant effects on the emotional health of both the bully and the bully’s victim (2008).

Forms of Teen Bullying

Bullying is the repeated harassment of a person by an individual or group that is in a position of power. The bully may have power over the victim because of physical dominance or a perceived superior social status. The three main forms of bullying are physical bullying, verbal bullying and cyber bullying.

Physical bullying: This form of bullying includes hitting, shoving and other acts of physical abuse. Physical bullies often believe that their behavior makes them appear powerful.

Verbal bullying: Verbal bullying covers everything from verbal taunts and threats of violence to more subtle acts of gossip and social exclusion. Much like physical bullying, the aim of verbal bullying is to elevate the bully’s self-image through the humiliation of another person.

Cyber bullying: The term “cyber bullying” refers to acts of harassment that occur through text messages, social websites and instant messaging. Examples of cyber bullying include:

  • Posting humiliating information or pictures of the victim on a social website that’s viewed by the victim’s peers
  • Sending the victim cruel or threatening messages through email, instant messaging or on her cell phone
  • Using social media to pull mean-spirited pranks on the victim.

Cyber bullying is particularly prevalent among teenagers today and has been linked to teen depression and suicide.

Bullying and Mental Health

Both bullies and victims are at higher risk of emotional problems and psychological disorders compared to other teens.

For the victims, bullying can lead to anxiety disorders and depression. Victims may even ponder suicide as a way to escape the bullying. Suicide rates are not necessarily higher among bullying victims compared to other teens, but studies show that the frequency of suicidal thoughts is higher.

The bullies themselves are more likely than their peers to suffer from a poor self-image that provokes them to aggrandize themselves through bullying. They are also more likely to have trouble in school and get into trouble with the law.

Just like victims of bullying, bullies report a higher incidence of suicidal thoughts than their peers. It is not clear if acting as a bully makes teens more likely to ponder suicide, or if teens that have suicidal thoughts are more likely to engage in bullying behavior.

Coping with Teen Bullying

Parents who suspect their teen is being bullied can provide support by talking to their teen in a supportive manner. They can also provide encouragement and help foster healthy friendships.

The parents of a teen bully must take the matter seriously, as bullying behavior is often indicative of a greater issue, and it can have devastating effects on all parties involved. Parents of a bully should make it clear that the behavior will not be tolerated while simultaneously working with the teen to improve her self-image and relationships with others.

Resources

Bullying Statistics – Stop Bullying, Harassment, and Violence. (n.d.). Teenage bullying. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/teenage-bullying.html

HealthDay. (2010). Mental health woes plague ‘cyberbullies’ and their victims. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_100742.html

James Cook University. (2010). Reasons for bullying behavior. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://www.jcu.edu.au/eo/bullying/JCUDEV_010054.html

Nauert, R. (2007). Bullying and being bullied results in greater risk of adult disorders. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/08/27/bullying-and-being-bullied-results-in-greater-risk-of-adult-disorders

Parker-Hope, T. (2008). With bullying, suicide risk for victims and tormentors. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/with-bullying-suicide-risk-for-victims-and-tormenters/

United States Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2003). Bullying is not a fact of life. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/SVP-0052/