The American Psychological Association (APA) defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort… [and] can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions.” Teen bullying is a longstanding problem that remains widespread in America. To more clearly understand the prevalence of teenage bullying, consider the following information, provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
- One out of every five (20.2%) students between the ages of 12 and 18 report being bullied.
- 41% of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that they think the bullying would happen again.
- Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted; 13% were the subject of rumors; 5% were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; and 5% were excluded from activities on purpose.
- The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation.
- 46% of bullied students report notifying an adult at school about the incident.
There is a copious amount of empirical evidence exposing a correlation between teenage bullying and mental health conditions. As children internalize the harmful effects of bullying, several issues that often inform an adolescent’s mental health may occur, such as:
- Poor school performance: A UCLA study, that included 2,300 students in eleven middle schools in Los Angeles, found that a high level of bullying was associated with lower grades across three years of middle school, and those who were rated as the most bullied performed significantly worse academically than their peers.
- Negative health effects: A review examining the long-term effects of bullying concluded that teens “who were victims of bullying have been consistently found to be at higher risk for common somatic problems such as colds, or psychosomatic problems such as headaches, stomach aches or sleeping problems, and are more likely to take up smoking.”
- Trigger mental health complications: Bullying causes emotional dysregulation which is a known risk factor of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and eating disorders. Further, a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reported that teenagers who were bullied by peers had significant mental health problems as adults.
- Suicidal ideation: Research indicates from studies conducted at Yale University, that victims of bullying are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.
- Diminished quality of life: Bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%).
Adolescent bullying has become a global concern, as repeated exposure to bullying impairs a child’s physical, mental, and social functioning.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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