Adjustment Problems Associated with Bullying
Experts currently recognize roughly three categories of students involved with bullying: bullies, passive victims, and provocative victims (Olweus, 1993; see discussion above). Bullies tend to act out-to direct their behavioral problems outward (Olweus, 1993). Passive victims tend to match the personality style that some experts call overcontrolled. Specifically, these youngsters tend to be sad, shy, and anxious. Chronic victims tend to become even more anxiety-ridden as they suffer peer harassment. Finally, a small group of youngsters tends to pick on others at times and to suffer bullying at others. These individuals demonstrate the rare combination of being alternatively sad and angry (Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Marttunen, Rimpela, & Rantanen, 1999; Olweus, 2001; Swearer, Grills, Haye, & Cary, 2004).
The childhood experience of bullying produces a slew of negative long-term adjustment effects. For example, being the target of bullies during their formative years is the most common complaint registered by adults seeking psychiatric care for depression and anxiety (Egan & Perry, 1998).
Recently, the long-term consequences of bullying have been directly addressed. For example, Rigby and colleagues (2001,2003) have demonstrated that bullying affects both mental and physical health:
Research findings support the view that peer victimization is reliably associated with seriously impaired mental and physical health among both boys and girls ... it has recently become clear that that they [victims] are more likely to experience particularly distressing mental and physical states, being more anxious, more depressed, more socially dysfunctional, less physically well, and more prone to suicidal ideation than other children. (2001, p. 322)
Jantzer, Hoover, and Narloch (in press) even found that bullying in childhood produced small, but detectable, reductions in the ability of college-age students to experience trust in and satisfaction in friendships. Bullying, in other words is a serious problem that transcends physical and mental health as well as quality of life.
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