Every year, one in five students will be bullied. Bullying is pervasive, so the idea developed that it’s a natural part of school life and that everyone goes through it at one point or another. But we now know that bullying has a traumatic and lasting impact on the victim. Being bullied constitutes an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), which has been shown to contribute to future experiences of violence and victimization that carry significant negative implications for lifelong physical and emotional health. The experience and threat of bullying force the victim to be hyper-vigilant: their amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for our primal self-protective instincts known as ‘fight-or-flight,’ becomes overactive.
How do you deal with a bully?
Studies show that the most effective way of stopping a bully is to activate bystanders; after all, bystanders reward bullies with attention. We need to educate and empower bystanders. Over half of bullying incidents stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the victim. Most children are witnesses to bullying at some point, teaching all children that they have an important role to play as a bystander in stopping bullying is essential. A bully may make an effort to retaliate against one person who speaks up but is not likely to target several.
Many clients have presented with trauma from bullying either at school or home with siblings or cousins.
Have you had experiences of bullying? How has it affected you?