We’re born into a world that rewards winners, but some people learn that they can rise to the top without labor. Those people knock others down to boost themselves up. They lie, cheat or steal credit for the ideas of others. Or they criticize, mock or degrade others to make themselves look better. People who repeatedly take advantage of power to intentionally harm others are bullies.
Bullying is defined as repeated, undesired and aggressive behavior that involves an inequality of power. Power can be physical, social or psychological.
Laura Crothers, a nationally recognized expert on childhood bullying and a psychology professor at Duquesne University, told DrugRehab.com that bullying often occurs without provocation.
“It’s not reactive or it’s not fighting back when someone else has been aggressive,” Crothers said. “There is a power differential between perpetrators and victims. The power can be physical. It can be social. It could be intellectual. It could be socio-economic or racial. The bully has more power than the victim, and the behaviors tend to be repeated over time.”
The prevalence of bullying causes many people to believe that it’s a rite of passage. Adults often justify the behavior as boys being boys, harmless gossip or immature behavior. But the behavior isn’t harmless.
“Children can’t solve bullying themselves,” Crother said. “That’s probably one of the biggest mistakes that adults make, is thinking that kids can figure it out themselves or they’ll get through it on their own. We haven’t seen that to be the case in the literature.”
Bullying can lead to physical violence, mental health problems and other life difficulties. It’s also a risk factor for substance abuse. It’s difficult to find a direct link between bullying and substance abuse because both behaviors are relatively common. More than 17 percent of children have tried an illicit drug by eighth grade, and nearly 50 percent have used an illicit drug by their senior year of high school, according to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey. Rates of childhood alcohol use are even higher.
“Children can’t solve bullying themselves. That’s probably one of the biggest mistakes that adults make, is thinking that kids can figure it out themselves or they’ll get through it on their own. We haven’t seen that to be the case in the literature.”
Comparatively, about 20 percent of high schoolers in the United States say they have been bullied on school property in the past year, and more than 15 percent say they have been bullied electronically in the past year, according to results from the CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
“What we know is there seems to be a relationship between bullying and substance abuse, but we don’t understand the direction or the causality,” Crothers said. “It isn’t known which causes the other.”
“In terms of perpetrators, bullies themselves, there seems to be a connection between engaging in bullying and using or abusing substances. The idea is that children who are aggressive at a young age tend to seek out peers who are also non-rule governed.“Studies also support the notion that aggressive behavior and substance use co-occur because each behavior is an attempt to cope with peer rejection. An extensive review of literature published in 2010 in School Psychology Quarterly supported the notion that risk factors for bullying and substance abuse overlap. Risk factors for bullying and bully victimization, such as social difficulties, negative community influences and academic struggles, are also risk factors for substance abuse.
Experts often categorize people affected by bullying as bullies, bully-victims, victims or bystanders.
However, some scholars believe bullying is a group function that includes many other roles. A more expansive list of bullying roles includes:
Source: Due, P. et al. (2005, March 8). Bullying and symptoms among school-aged children: international comparative cross sectional study in 28 countries.
“Individuals who are victims tend to have depression, anxiety or somatic concerns, which are physical symptoms with no known physical cause, like tummy aches or headaches.”“There are a number of mental health conditions that are associated with bullying behavior,” Crothers said. “They include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.” The more risk factors a person has, the more likely they are to bully or to be bullied.
|Teens Who Were Not Cyberbullied||Teens Who Were Cyberbullied|
Victoria Siegel’s StoryVictoria Siegel, the daughter of real estate mogul David Siegel and former Mrs. Florida Jackie Siegel, had attended rehab for addiction and was striving to stay sober when she began being cyberbullied by her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She relapsed and overdosed on a combination of methadone, an opioid painkiller, and sertraline, a drug used to treat depression and anxiety. In a statement, the family said: “The ex-girlfriend of Victoria’s boyfriend used his phone to send cruel and hateful text messages using the boyfriend’s phone. These messages were sent early on the morning of Victoria’s death. These messages were clearly intended to hurt Victoria and, while we cannot be sure, may have affected her emotional state at a time when she was emotionally vulnerable.” TMZ also reported that Victoria experienced cyberbullying on social media. The death was ruled an accidental overdose. In an interview with DrugRehab.com, David Siegel said he had committed his life to combatting addiction and stigma associated with substance abuse.
Young people used to be able to avoid bullying by taking a different route home from school or avoiding risky places in their neighborhood. But now they can experience bullying everywhere they go via the internet. Cyberbullying can occur on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, dating apps and a number of other social media networks. They can’t simply delete their accounts to avoid bullying because bullies can still spread rumors and embarrassing photos or videos with the click of a button.Children aren’t the only ones who bully. Parents can bully other parents, teachers and children. Adults can be bullied in college, the workplace, in community groups or in their neighborhood.
In addition to seeking help, you should report your concerns to authorities if you believe your child or someone you care about is being bullied.
At some point, you’ll need to determine whether your job is worth pursuing the administrative or legal processes or if you’d be happier searching for a new job.
Keep in mind that bullying doesn’t have to occur at school or work to violate school or work policies. You can report cyberbullying to schools or employers. Take timestamped screenshots of bullying behavior online so you have evidence of hurtful messages, posts or images. If the cyberbullying violates a local or state law, you should report it to law enforcement.
Bullying doesn’t have to be an accepted part of life. Preventing this dangerous behavior begins with raising awareness and eliminating the stigma associated with reporting bullying.
In response to the overwhelming prevalence of bullying and the harm it is known to cause, several organizations have been created to combat the issue.
STOMP Out Bullying raises awareness to reduce bullying, cyberbullying and other forms of digital harassment. It provides educational programs on topics such as homophobia and racism. It hosts anti-bullying events and peer mentoring programs in communities. The organization also shares public service announcements and free information online.
It Gets Better is dedicated to teaching LBGTQ+ youth about preventing, avoiding and overcoming bullying. As part of the project’s mission, celebrities, activists and other supporters reach out to youth who have been bullied based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. They let youth know that people care about them and support them.
Founded by young women who had been bullied, the Kind Campaign raises awareness about the harms of girl-on-girl bullying. The organization creates documentaries, travels to schools and provides educational programming to teach youth.
The PACER National Bullying Prevention Center provides resources for children, families, educators and community members to learn about bullying. Resources include classroom toolkits, learning materials for families and an interactive website.
Bullying and substance abuse can cause long-lasting health problems, and the issues are often related. Counseling and therapy can heal many of the side effects of bullying and alcohol or drug use, but the ailments can be prevented through education, understanding and compassion.
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