As we age, one would assume that most of us outgrow aggressive behavior and bullying. And while that’s true for some past schoolyard bullies as they choose to learn from the error in their old ways, it’s not always the case.
Nevertheless, a recent CDC survey showed that 20% of teens had experienced some form of bullying, and what’s more shocking is that the percentage increases to 25% when observing workplace bullying.
The saddening element of those statistics isn’t just that those individuals are suffering in their daily lives. Millions of people aren’t able to appreciate waking up in the morning – these are the long-term consequences. Years later, long after the traumatic bullying scars have healed, everything from immune system health to the enhanced risk of developing chronic illnesses is still influenced.
What Are the Physical and Psychological Effects of Bullying?
The human body normally reacts with ‘fight or flight’ actions intended to help us flee from dangerous conditions when we’re subjected to accounts of bullying, produced by the body’s innate fear response that individuals of active bullying activate due to intense feelings of fear.
Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released, leading to a more accelerated heart rate, muscle tension, and a discharge of the energy your body would otherwise save for fuel.
Bodily systems that aren’t needed for the fight or flight mode are subsequently constrained by the body during the release of stress hormones, mainly affecting the reproductive, immune, and digestive systems. During a dangerous situation, it only affects the body for a small amount of time, yet the repetition of this mechanism by a victim of bullying can make the frequency and duration of the stress response dangerous.
The connection between stress and future health problems is yet to be proven by science. However, it is presumed by many specialists to be one of the main factors of some health problems, which the victims encounter later in life. These conditions include enhanced risk of heart disease, digestive problems, and elevated risk of autoimmune diseases.
Types of Bullying
Bullying can occur in different settings due to numerous circumstances, and it can take on very different formats.
Nevertheless, most psychologists divide bullying into 4 main sub-categories: social, verbal, physical, and cyberbullying. Any one of these categories of bullying can occur on its own or in a combined manner.
Moreover, bullying can occur in any circumstance. You could be out to dinner with friends and run into a bully-driven situation – some of the most common situations are school and work environments.
If you feel that you may be experiencing one of these forms of bullying, talk to someone you trust.
Tips On How to Deal with Bullies Effectively
There’s no magic solution for dealing with bullies, and a lot of the time, it comes down to trial and error as different people respond to things differently. Some bullies will give up when you don’t entertain, whereas others will be more persistent.
Whatever the case may be, here are four tips to help deal with bullies of any kind.
1. Don’t React
Try not to give a bully any form of satisfaction. Bullies act cruelly in the hopes of receiving a reaction, so when you respond with anger or hostility – tears or fears – you are solely giving the bully what he or she desires and raising the likelihood of future conflicts. Walk away from the tormentor and try to maintain your emotions under control, even if you’re furious inside.
It’s boring to bully someone who provides you nothing in return, so by reducing your reaction, you take all of the enjoyment out of it for the bully and decrease the chances of them continuing the aggressions.
2. Try to Bypass the Bully
There’s no reason for walking directly towards trouble if you can bypass it. Dodge or reduce interactions with someone who’s causing you stress. If someone bullies you on your walk home from work, then try a separate route. Also, try to have company when you know you’ll have to interact with the said bully, there’s strength in numbers.
3. Get Help When You Need It
In some circumstances, there’s just absolutely nothing you can do. When bullying gets aggressive, violent, or dangerous, it’s important to get yourself out of the circumstance as soon as possible. Don’t listen to your bully’s demands, just leave to a safe place and get help.
4. Change Your Situation
If all else fails and you can’t put a stop to the bullying, you may want to consider changing your situation to get as far away from the bully as possible.
For instance, if you’re being bullied at school and the faculty members aren’t able to stop the aggression and the bullying is making it hard for you to feel safe and comfortable while on the property, it might be time to analyze whether moving to a different educational center might be a good idea. The same can be said for cases of workplace bullying and even cyberbullying.
What to Do If You See Someone Being Bullied or Are Aware of It Going On
Bullying can be difficult to cope with simply because the victims of bullying are hesitant to speak out and seek help. Acts of bullying can slowly erode a victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence, which can make it extremely challenging for them to seek assistance.
If you witness someone being bullied, then you should try to help them. One way in which you can help a victim of bullying is to befriend them.
Bullying often damages friendships and isolates the receiver from their support network. Making friends with an individual who is being bullied gives them a new support network and can help to restore their self-confidence. Showing acts of kindness can help to stop that individual from feeling empty, alone, and unimportant.
Moreover, bullies find it more difficult to target a victim if they are not alone. Use your friendship to remove people from situations where they are experiencing bullying. Asking people to join you can encourage them to emotionally and physically remove themselves from a situation in which they are actively being targeted.
Only through identification and solution to ‘nip things in the bud’ as promptly as possible can these chronic long-term health problems be stopped from emerging in the future, especially those who are currently experiencing bullying.
All businesses, universities, and institutions can play a focal role in this by guaranteeing that anti-bullying rules and policies are in place and that assistance is always available for those who fall victim to bullies. We can also play an important role as individuals and speak up or, at least, help those who we see experiencing this kind of ongoing harassment.