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You Can’t Sit With Us!
T h e C a u s e s a n d E f f e c t s of Bullying o n C h i l d r e n a n d Ad o l e s c e n t s
Fi loteo , G o n z a g a , G r e p a l d e o
Why are Instagram follower-counts the lifeblood of the careers of beauty vloggers and
influencers? Why do celebrities scramble to do stupid things to gain attention, like steal each other’s
boyfriends then write songs about it? Why are celebrities, who have a whole cadre of PR managers
“Second only to the family, the peer
group is the most influential to a
child’s psychosocial development,
especially during school age years
(Papalia and Martorell 2015).”
who screen every single tweet, every selfie, still
showing up on the news for a controversial,
‘insensitive’ post? And why do we, the Internet
audience, simply keep coming back for more?
It’s quite simple, really. We all just want to feel like
we matter.
As we get to those pre-teen, teenage years,
suddenly your parents are the Boomer/GenX’s who never can relate to memes or super relevant events
(like the Sugar Bear endorsement that wasn’t just a Sugar Bear endorsement but an act of
war). And although we love our parents of parental figures, not everything can be solved with just parental
advice. And that’s where the peer group comes in.
We start to depend more on people our own age, who relatively share the same struggles as
we do. Second only to the family, the peer group is the most influential to a child’s psychosocial
development, especially during school age years (Papalia and Martorell 2015). As we transition from
child to adult in the fabled ‘coming-of-age’, peer reputation becomes more and more influential, as we
learn social cues from those of our own age. Among pre-adolescent girls in particular, reputation among
peers is especially important, being not only a measure of ‘popularity’ with its given social benefits, some
that go deeper than simply having
someone to gossip with or sit at lunch together
with, but also as sources of intimacy and
(Reynolds and Juvonen 2011). In fact, the
massive importance of peer influence aligns with
Erik Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stage
for adolescents: identity vs. role confusion, as
teens struggle to search for their own identity,
their niche, to become fully-functioning social
beings, often by taking cues from perceived
popular figures among their peer group.
Popularity is peer-perceived and reflects
prestige, visibility, and reputation (Cillessen and
Marks 2011 from Gommans et al. 2016) and being
Studies have shown that
aggressive children,
predominantly bullies, can
be perceived as cool,
powerful, and popular
even in mainstream peer
groups (Salmivalli 2010).
popular in adolescence is correlated with
enhanced self-perceptions, increased belongingness to the peer group, lower chances of rejection and
exclusion, and access to valuable resources. It can even seem like a matter of life and death when you’re
an adolescent, trying to survive the jungle that is high school. Popularity often means you get treated
better than ‘unpopular’ kids, and can help you get out of trouble more often than not. And sometimes,
all that power can get to your head.
So why do people bully?
Partly, they bully because they believe that their behavior helps increase their popularity and peer
status. Studies have shown that aggressive children, predominantly bullies, can be perceived as cool,
powerful, and popular even in mainstream peer groups (Salmivalli 2010). Bullying may be self- motivated,
but it is also group-oriented because it is done in pursuit of high status and a powerful, dominant position
in the peer group; oftentimes, it’s nothing personal to the victim, it’s just a power- play, targeting the
perceived ‘weak’ in social settings (Wolke and Lereya 2015). Surprisingly, bullying does not necessarily
indicate a conduct disorder. In fact, to willingly manipulate victims to increase
one’s own social standing could even indicate a very deep social and emotional understanding (Wolke
and Lereya 2015).
There are two types of aggression: direct and indirect relational aggression (Hubbard et al.
2010). Under that, there are two more types, reactive and proactive. Let me set the scene for you a la
Mean Girls: Cady Heron wants Aaron Samuels, so she, with the help of Janis and Damian, set out to
ruin Regina George’s image as the most popular girl in school by feeding her “Swedish nutrition bars”
that actually made her gain weight and turning the other two Plastics against her. When Regina finds
out, outraged, she strategically places her own name in the “Burn Book” and reveals it to the entire
school, implicating Cady and the other two Plastics.
When the Burn Book is released, every girl whose name was written and insulted in it immediately
accused another (innocent) accused of being the one to write that insult. This results in a massive schoolwide fight, which led to the famous impromptu positivity open forum (with the requisite mosh pit) in the
school gymnasium.
The first scenario with both Cady and Regina indicates both direct and indirect relational
aggression, specifically what is called proactive aggression. They both had specific motives in mind when
they hurt the other person: Cady, to steal Regina’s boyfriend, and Regina, to get revenge at her ‘friends’.
The Plastics both emotionally abuse each other in public by imposing strict rules in dressing (“on
Wednesdays we wear pink” and Regina’s isolation when she wore sweatpants), a form of direct proactive
aggression. Cady and Regina both set out to destroy the other’s relationships with their peers in a bid
for more popularity – which is indirect proactive aggression.
The second scenario displays reactive aggression. The girls immediately turn on each other,
expecting the worst of each other, resulting in the school riot. Reactive aggression is usually motivated
in self-defense, a hostile predisposition that might have come about from constantly being belittled for
their flaws; the final straw that broke the camel’s back was the public humiliation induced by the Burn
And it all started because of the wrong people having too much power over everybody else.
There may be multiple reasons why a person chooses to bully, but one huge influence in a person’s life
background is the family.
I remember seeing a video on Facebook where a child was forced to identify the colors of a
crayon. At first I thought it was harmless and cute since a child was learning the colors, but as the
video progresses, the child was getting impatient and
angry that she was making faces in front of her mother.
Seconds after, she shouted at her mother. Instead of
reprimanding the child kindly, the mother shouted back.
The child stopped shouting after that and continued
identifying the colors. Seeing how alarming the video
was, I looked at the comments section to see if
someone feels the same way as I do. Surprisingly, there
was not a single disapproving comment in sight!
Was this type of attitude normalized? Are the
parents’ definition of discipline means hurting the child
emotionally or physically?
The atmosphere in a family has an impact on a
child’s development mainly in the behavioral aspect.
Children who grew up in problematic households where
parents use brutal ways of discipline and non
involvement in a child’s life leads to maladjustment to
children ages 2 to 11. This is because of a phenomena
called “spillover” which is the transfer of mood or
behavior from a person to another (Buehler, Gerard,
Therefore, it’s very vital for a child and a parent to
have a good and open communication towards each
other. As children approach middle childhood, they are
more likely to coregulate with their parents which means
they are more likely to listen to their parents as long as
parents understand the child’s opinions.
Contrary to coregulation is harsh parenting. In a
study done by Lunkenheimer et.al (2017), it was
associated that parents who practice harsh parenting
have children who respond negatively to their parents and vice versa. When mothers showed more
harsh parenting, children showed more internalizing behaviors like depression, fearfulness and anxiety
and externalizing behaviors like aggressiveness, disobedience, and unfriendliness towards peers
(Papalia, 2012).
In a study done by Connolly and O’Moore (2003), they found out through an Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire Junior (1975) and Family Relations Test (Bene & Anthony, 1957) that children who bullied
have negativistic attitudes and restrained emotions. They also do irresolute relationships with their
parents and siblings. In addition, bullies scored higher on extraversion, psychoticism and neuroticism.
Consequently, very strict or negligent parenting has very impactful effects on children and their
relationship with one another. This also increases the child’s problem behaviors. This does not mean
that parents should be loose on their children. In fact, discipline does not harm at all as it promotes selfcontrol in children. Furthermore, we cannot rule out a conclusion as to why a child has bullying tendencies
because a child can bully for several reasons, but in order to avoid these, familial integrity and early
intervention needs to be established.
Mental health problems are problems
that can affect a person’s thinking, perception,
mood, or behavior. These problems cannot be
seen through the physical eye but they are still
there. Then we ask, how does bullying affects
one’s mental health? According to Hurley, K.
(2018), “bullying can have negative short and
In a study done by
Lunkenheimer et.al (2017), it
was associated that parents who
practice harsh parenting have
long-term consequences for both the victim
and the bully.” Bullying has negative short term
and long term consequences to the
children who respond negatively
to their parents and vice versa.
mental health of the child or adolescent who is bullied as well as the bully.
Short term effects that can affect a child or an adolescent who are bullied according to Hurley,
K. (2019) includes: “Social isolation, feelings of shame, sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits,
low self-esteem, school avoidance, symptoms of anxiety, bedwetting, higher risk of illness,
psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, and other physical complaints
with no known medical cause), poor school performance, symptoms of depression. Short term effects for
bullies includes: poor school performance due to suspensions, increase truancy risk, difficulty
maintaining social relationships, and increased risk of substance abuse.” Also, with this bullying that is
happening a child can develop a mistrust, isolation, and role confusion instead of trust, intimacy, and
identity according to Erik Erikson’s Stages of Social Development. These short term effects seem very
hurtful already, even heavier than we expected; how much heavier would these burdens in the long
According to anti-bullying alliance (n.d.), “common mental health difficulties experienced by
young people include: depression, anxiety problems, self harming, eating disorders.” Additionally,
according to Hurley, K. (2018) long term effects of bullying to bullied child could also include increased
risk of suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, suicide plans, poor general health, difficulty establishing
trusting, reciprocal friendships and relationships, substance abuse. According to Nierenberg (2015), “the
findings suggest that being victimized by bullying in early childhood increases the risk of depressive
disorders that need psychiatric treatment later in life, said study author Dr. Andre Sourander, a professor
of child psychiatry at the University of Turku in Finland.” Which means that if a child is bullied for a long
time, it would increase the risk of depressive disorders that need clinical treatment later in life. The one
who are bullied are not the only one who has a long term effects from bullying. Bullies as well experience
these effects in the long term : risk of spousal or child abuse, risk of antisocial behavior, substance abuse,
and less likely to be educated or employed. These long term effects not only drastically changes the
mental health of both parties, but also their physical health as well.
Bullying is very rampant to children and adolescents, especially in this generation where
technology is very common that we can communicate and connect with people instantly which means
bullying can be done much easier. With these, more and more people are getting bullied and more and
more people are developing mental health problems as early as their childhood. Mental health is as
important as our physical health and being able to take care of it is like taking care of your body. To sum
it up, since we now know the effects of bullying on the mental health of children or adolescents, we
should find a way as Iskonars to end the stigma on mental health and even prevent these effects. It is
a challenge to the student nurses who are reading this, now that we know the effects of bullying on both
the bully and the bullied, what will you do to prevent it?
Buehler, C., & Gerard, J. M. (2002). Marital Conflict, Ineffective Parenting, and Children’s and
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Bullying and mental health: guidance for teachers and other professionals SEN and disability:
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Connolly, I., & O’Moore, M. (2003). Personality and family relations of children who bully. Personality
and Individual Differences. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00218-0
Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2012). Experience Human Development (12th ed.). New York :
McGraw Hill.
Gommans, R., Müller, C. M., Stevens, G. W. J. M., Cillessen, A. H. N., & Bogt, T. F. M. T. (2016).
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Hurley, K. (2018, September 26). Short Term and Long Term Effects of Bullying: Psychological &
Societal. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/effects-of-bullying
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problems, and the dynamic coupling of parents’ and children’s positive behaviors. Journal of
Family Psychology, 31(6), 689–698. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000310
Nierenberg, C. (2015, December 9). Childhood Bullying Can Have Lasting Effects on Mental Health.
Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/53034-childhood-bullying-lasting-mental-healtheffects.html
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