Bullying by peers even worse for mental health than abuse by parents

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, May 5, 2015.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Of course no reason to minimize the effects of abusive parents have on child, but considering how little is actually done to protect kids from peer violence, this research finding is rather shocking: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(15)00165-0/abstract

    Worst off are of course those who get the double whammy and are abused at home and bullied in school, but just being bullied by peers, even when your home life is absolutely fine, makes it more likely you will suffer long term issues and have more mental health issues (depression, anxiety, self-harm) than if you are not bullied but are maltreated at home.

    In my country there has been this project that seems to reduce bullying at least somewhat, but it has lots of critics, because it is targeted more to to deal with kids who enable and facilitate bullying than straight out solutions of removing 'the one' bully from the school. And of course it isn't perfect, it reduces bullying, and doesn't end it. And only works to problems of isolating a victim with young kids, when kids get older, the victims of major bullying are usually so ostracised that about everyone in the school or group consider them bad kids, weird, stinky, awful and nasty, even if they don't actually know them at all. And kids do not even recognize they are actually bullying those kids, because in stereotypes a bullied kid is this nice kid, whom is bullied by couple mean kids, when the reality of severe bullying is usually something totally different. More typically the victim isn't 'nice', in fact there often is a reason they attract bullies. Their social skills may be lacking, they may actually smell, they may be reactive and lash out and be mean and vast majority of the kids do consider them pariah and take part to bullying one way or another, also the nice kids, who pride themselves of being nice and protecting those bullied.

    When for example my kid's belongings were often stolen and broken, none of his schoolmates would talk to him if they were not planning to taunt him or use him and his head was regularly stuffed into the toilet bowl and he was other ways physically assaulted, he and his classmates were asked anonymously, if someone in their class was bullied. Some bullying was reported by kids, one of the boys had called one girl a who** and two girls were being mean to each others according to the class. None of the kids mentioned my son being bullied (not even he, he was way too ashamed to admit it.) And when some of the incidents were being sorted out by teachers and us parents, kids who bullied my son never recognized it to be bullying, because they considered my son to be so nasty, such a bad kid, that they were in their rights to teach him a lesson (or thousand.)

    While people admit bullying is bad (though some still consider it kids being kids and not that serious), it seems that schools and society are doing very little to actually reduce it. And victims will pay price of that long till the adulthood.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Often it goes hand in hand. If you are abused at home, it is usually because your family of origin sees you as vulnerable or different or in some way offensive to their image, and the kids see the same. Bullying at school was no bed of roses either and back then the teachers tended to look the other way. As a child, you feel very much alone. Very few kids have the guts to befriend you because they don't want to be a target too.

    I want to add that kid bullies are very good at doing it when no authority figures are around and reporting it is one kid's word against another's. Often, at least where Jumper went to school, the bullied and the bully get equal punishment, especially if the bullied fights back or tries to. Then it is considered that they are both equally in the wrong.

    Nobody ever stole my thinks. It was more taunting, teasing, getting up and moving away if I sat down near them, girl stuff, but sometimes a few of the boys tried to fight with me. I think I was lucky that one brave girl, who moved to our town when I was twelve, befriended me. She hated th e snobbery of our town and befriended me and dared anyone to tell her not to and she taught me a lot about how not to be bullied so it went away by high school.

    My brother had it far worse than me in the bullying department. It went on, I believe, into high school. (In this, I haven't spoken to him in so long, I could be incorrect, but I believe it went on until college). He didn't deserve it. He was a good kid and he was very sick so he looked sick and tiny and...well, that's all it takes for a good bully to get his fix. However, he did not get bullied at home.
    Last edited: May 5, 2015
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Real problem is, that punishing 'the bully' doesn't do much good at all. School, or workplace, bullying is a group phenomenon and while the bullied tend to stay the same, unless they are removed, then replacement bullied is usually chosen, targeting actions to 'the bully', don't usually do much good. Sometimes they may turn 'the bully' to bullied one, but that of course is not helpful. It is 'the other kids', who need to be targeted to solve, or lessen, the bullying problem.

    And no, no one deserves to be bullied, how good or bad kids or people they are. Bullying is violence and no one deserves to have to face daily violence.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Once upon a time (not that long ago), just being in a wheelchair or having a physical deformity was enough to get you bullied. That's no longer acceptable. Somehow, we have changed societal perceptions of physical disabilities.

    Now we need to do the same with developmental differences and mental health. Depending on where you live, SOME developmental differences are protected - like Down's Syndrome, where it is physically obvious that the kid has an issue. It's the more subtle challenges that people don't get. Not just kids. Everybody. Teachers, parents, police...
  5. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I can be easily bullied to this very day.

    I think it has to do with people pleasing. And that must have to do with fear of not pleasing and the backwash from being broken and broken as a child.


    It wasn't until I went back to school as an adult that I found my "people". I chose a beautiful private college with high academic standards because I had always wanted to go there. And there we all were.

    Everyone was like me

    When I brought my grandchild there, or either of my children, they found it boring.

    I am still boring like that. My favorite program is Book TV.

    I really like TED talks, and things like ballet.

    There is much for me to think about, here.

    I suppose I am a weird person, then. A friend and I were talking one day, and she said: "You do have that geek thing going on."

    She is very strong, and I like strong women. I seem to be surrounding myself with them at this stage of my life.

    Maybe one day I will be strong like that.

    The difference seems to be that they are not appalled at their own inappropriate behaviors, whereas I am. No, the difference is that they do not consider their behaviors inappropriate.

    Shame again, then. My take on it, I mean.

    Oprah talks about reading having been her way out ~ about reading having taught her that there were other worlds, other ways of being. If you think about it, there is such a thing as economic bullying in the adult world, or appearance bullying. (Plastic surgery, perfect smiles, and the things we do groom and dress and present ourselves.) There is a pecking order in the animal kingdom. Plants too are in a pretty savage battle for existence. Is human bullying a crueler, more sophisticated version of that?

    But there is a line between fighting for position and criminal activity.

    Putting someone's head in a toilet is criminal.

    It is not different than forcing someone to wear a yellow star or any of the things that happened next, to the Jewish people. It is not different than beheading some defenseless someone to terrorize the world into taking you seriously.

    I have friends who are gay, and who fought so hard for the right to be married. Initially, I had no opinion on that. Not my issue, right? But theirs was a thirty year relationship. They did eventually marry one another. And even after all those years, having their relationship legitimized in that way meant something sacred to them. That fight for legitimacy, for the public affirmation attending that concept of marriage, taught me (and I think, is teaching many of us) that marriage is, after all, a sacred thing.

    So, that has been a valid experience, for me.

    Here is a thing I am ashamed of: There were girls in my school too, who did not look very pretty or dress very well or smell very nice. I saw one of them after we all had graduated. She did not seem the same meek person.

    And you know, I wondered why that was.


    It happens alot though, if you think about the way we all go about preparing for high school reunions. Remember those movies, Back to the Future and Michelle and Romy's (?) High School Reunion? Fraser did a show on meeting up with the high school bully long past the time when we believe those wounds have been healed, too.

    And of course, I was always very certain that I was repulsively ugly. And I did then, as I do now, have that "geek thing" going on.

    So it must be a common thing, to want to prove to those who maybe never even noticed us that we matter, that we are someone.

    One of us described it, here on the site, as having her face right up against the window, but not being invited to go in. And maybe, to be very sure you would not be welcome to go in.

    It's like that, I think.

    Think about what is going on here in America around the issue of our police forces behaving inappropriately. Those of us not affected by it don't see it. Those deeply and routinely affected by it are rebelling against what is happening to them, and the rest of us are not able to understand it.

    I am glad your son had his sport, and that he is a great athlete, SuZir.

    I would want to punish those who did that to him. I would want to expose them, today, for what they did.

    It takes alot of courage to speak up. To admit what has happened to us, and to speak up.

  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    In a school district very close to our daughters, a deaf boy, who did wrestling, was sexually assaulted by some of the other wrestlers and his clothes were stolen in the locker room of the school. I found out about this only because I was sitting next to his mother at a football game and we started to talk. She opened up, like it had been bottled inside of her. The boys who did it were suspended for doing it and many of the kids were furious because they were such go od wrestlers and they wanted their school to do well!!!! Amazing to me. Shocking too. Also, the Coach was not hard on the boys. It did go to court and while it was in court the boys were again allowed to wrestle and this poor boy was being attacked daily at school and, trust me, the school admins were scared and tried to stop it, but they couldn't.

    Ultimately, the boy moved to our school district...a warm, small school with superior academics and he was taken in and accepted totally. What burned me up was that one of his abusers, a top notch wrestler, was recruited on a full athletic scholarship for college and he is there today. This is even after the boys were found guilty.

    The school distric that this happened in had to pay a lot of money to the boy and his family and he now goes to a very good college for the deaf.

    When I hear stories like this, I just want to scream. This is so not okay.
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Cases where there is one grave incident, sympathetic victim, clear cut bullies, who did it and so on are good in raising public outrage and easy to judge. That of course is not the whole, or even very typical, picture of bullying problem.

    It is common that the same child is both bullied and bullies (and these kids are the worst off ones, they tend to have most problems when they grow up), there may be a primus motor of bullying, but most of the time, it is not just one or two or three kids in the class who bully. Usually everyone has their own role to play. And as said, often the victim is not overly sympathetic.

    In some ways my son is a typical case. He comes after his mom and has never been on the short list to sainthood, can be provocative, annoying and obnoxious. His social skills are also lacking, he is inflexible and people consider him arrogant and cocky. He is also overly competitive, perfectionist, gets frustrated with himself easily and acts out, is reactive and passive aggressive and has always had behavioural issues. He has been all that from very early age. Kids who bullied him were far from evil. They were your regular, nice, wholesome, good kids. And while some acts they did were of course crimes, most of them were under the age of criminal responsibility during the most of it. And when it started, they all were very young and probably were out of their d3epth when dealing with a class mate, who had all these difficult behaviours. What they would had needed was to be taught and guided better.

    But the teachers and other adults around them were not sadistic bastards either. We just didn't see the whole picture. It was easier to see and hear Ache screaming ugly things and lashing out than what led to that. And he didn't tell about it and straight out lied about what happened. For example all those stolen and ruined possession? I and his dad were in impression that it was his carelessness was that has caused his clothes, backpacks, books, bikes etc. to get lost or broken. And yes, he was punished at home for it.

    It was just an ugly mess.

    And not something you could solve by punishing the bullies. I mean, how would you do it? Punish them and they retaliate, because in their eyes Ache had long before become a subhuman, not a real person with feelings and all, but something else. The other. (This same phenomenon is, what explains genocides, neighbours, friends, even relatives turning against each other because of the ethnicity, religion or ideology. Somehow those neighbours, friends or family members turn into the other, subhuman, not people any more and the bloodshed can begun.) Kick them out of the school? How do you kick for example 15 kids from class of 20 kids out? And where do you place them? Where do you get kids to fill a class again? I mean, for example in our municipality there are three elementary schools catering to kids like mine, one middle school and one academical high school. Services of vocational high school are bought from cities around us. Do you just take my neighbourhood kids and bus them to the next village's elementary school, because they bullied my kid. And take bullies from that village to our school? And when the bullying starts again, you again bus half of the class to third school? That really doesn't work. Group dynamic issues like bullying need to be solved in the group they happen.

    While my kid later got badly hurt by peers in sports, when he was young, socialisation in sport teams really worked and how they dealt with bullying was great. When kids were young, sportsmanship and team player-skills were very high on the goals taught to them and not only in principle but in every day work. All kinds of mocking or nasty comments were forbidden and adults were quick to interfere. And because my kid was competitive, perfectionist, easy to get frustrated and high strung, he was considered very prone to that kind of unacceptable behaviour, which led to the situation, where there were always an adult, coach, assistant coach or some other team official less than 10 feet from him to intervene, if he was inappropriate. Which on the other hand led to other, more savvy kids, not to say anything nasty to him, because that same coach would had heard and rebuked them. So while my kid was considered the one prone to break team rules, being under such a strict eye made the sports basically bullying free zone for several years. Things of course changed when they got older and had more freedom and less oversight. But when young, that very structured situation did give my kid a lot of opportunities to more healthy peer relationships. Sports programs Ache attended as a kid were really good in that. Much more adults per kid than at school and much clearer expectations. But to be honest, Ache was clearly very talented from the get go and that likely played a part why he got so much adult attention. He was spotted by the higher ups and his coaches were told to work with his issues as being a team player, when he was still young. If he would had been an average player, he probably wouldn't had received quite as much adult attention. But still, until they were about 12 and given more freedom and less oversight, it was very disciplined bunch and very little room for misbehaving and being mean to others.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Reread my last post and noticed I wasn't too coherent in what I tried to say. So lets try again.

    * Bullying starts from early on and often it sticks for a long time and becomes a default of the group. And often gets worse when time goes by and a victim becomes seen as subhuman
    * Kids who bully are not evil and kids who are bullied are not always 'the nice kids' (though some of course are.)
    * Effective way to interfere is to make kids aware what bullying is and influence to 'bystanders' so that they would not enable and encourage bullying.
    * Our own experiences with our bullied kid were, that the effective way to battle bullying was adult supervision and interfering in early stages with rather minimal punishment. Rebuke was enough, when it came early on, was consistent and things weren't let out of hand.
    * Kids are not likely to report bullying too reliably. Victims may not want to tell and others may not recognize what they are doing as bullying, not even when it is severe.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suz, I think what you said is right except that I can't see how a nice kid can be a bully. A bystander, yes. A bully, no. What they do, and they know it, is ruin the other child's life in school and that is learned early. They know it. The bystanders are afraid of the bully, which is why they stand by, although there are plenty of adult bystanders too in adult bullying.

    I think the bullied kids are most often the vulnerable and shy who don't have strong back up. Bullies are basically cowards. They take on single kids, not groups. Heck, THEY don't want to get hurt! I learned that once I started fighting back, and I did not use my fists. I just said stuff that made the bullie's friends sort of giggle at the bully, as they had once been giggling at me...I did not have a ton of people behind me, but I did have one very close friend who not only was beautiful (very important in high school), but had a huge mouth that intimidated people.

    In my case, while I never forgot the elementary school bullying because you don't, it has had less of an impact on my life than my at home bullying. In the end, those abusers were strangers, not family, people whom I wanted to love me. But bullying is terrible and I don't know what can be done to stop it. We have some huge schools in the U.S. and there is no way authority figures can keep track of all the bullying that goes on. I hear some awful stories, with the one about the deaf child being the worst.
  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


  11. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Bystanders are not so much afraid of the bully, they are more often entertained by the show bully and bullied give them. And they encourage bully to continue.

    I have never met so nice kid that they would not have engaged to bullying in any way. I wasn't one, neither was any of my friends or classmates (and I had lots of those, changing schools three times a year at worst.) I have met lots of kids and adults who do not recognize that they were bullying others. When saying a mean thing or sharing a gossip on someone is not bullying, if you and that person are on equal grounds, and something basically everyone engages to, it becomes part of bullying, when the person you do it, is much lower in pecking order and bullied already.

    In every school I ever attended there were always some kid or kids, who were total outcast in everyone's eyes. For example in one school there was a boy in my class, though not sharing any classes with me, whose name most likely was not 'Puke', but that was an only name I heard for him. Rumours were going around how he used to peek to girls locker room (no, absolutely no idea if there was any truth in that rumour, most likely not or it was something that happened years before and been a totally innocent prank or something other boys had sicced him) and it was common that all the girls would start to shriek if we saw him even close to lockers during our gym class (which, considering that boys lockers were next to those, school library on the other side and if you looked out of the window there were bicycle stands was not that uncommon.) I did refer him as 'Puke' like everyone else and would notify others if I saw him close to our locker room. And that was bullying.

    In other school there was this girl, who according the rumour mill was using drugs and sleeping around and was mean. They also told how she had cut the hair of an other girl in the school. Again, no idea how much was true, but no one talked with her, many pretended they couldn't touch her or anything she had touched, because that would apparently give you a STD. There were rumours going on how she had an abortion when she was missing school for few days and she was called with nasty names. And when she was smoking self rolled cigs behind the school (like quite a few others) some went to tell to a teacher, how she was having pot at school (and teachers even called the police.) After that it was a known fact she was a druggie and none of the good kids would talk to her even at class.

    I attended both of those schools less than a year and really don't know what happened to these kids and how much of everything was true. Neither of them would likely even remember me. Still I was a bully who bullied both of them.

    And that is kind of problem. If a kid just spares rumours, doesn't talk to someone, giggles to them and things like that, they do not recognize they are part of bullying that kid. Nor do they recognize that if they would just stop it, the kids who do their 'dirty work' for them wouldn't feel encouraged and rewarded for it and most would stop. And that is how bullying would stop.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    How to break the cycle? Because... for most kids, their parents STILL behave that way. Bullying is part of the workplace, for most of us. More subtle (no pranks in the washroom), but still real.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suzir, some bystandsers laugh. But I know Jumper has witnessed bullying and has both intervened and just walked away. You have to know Jumper...she is not a bully under any circumstances. But she sometimes plain doesn't want to get involved. She is also the one most vocal against the bullying she has seen, but doesn't always do anything about it other than not participate or watch.

    As a kid, even though I was bullied (my biggest offense were my poor social skills and being stick skinny and kind of dorky looking) I would definitely enjoy watching somebody else being bullied to a point. I'd be thinking, "Thank God it's not me." I did not go up to kids and bully t hem and never would have, but I didn't try to stop it either. In high school I plain just didn't see much bullying as I was a loner and stuck to my very small threesome of friends who were all younger than me and I'd already decided that people packs, much like dog packs, turn on each other, back bite, and, yes, bully even their friends. I still believe that groups of people can't avoid the urge to gossip against one another, bully each other with a smile, and talk behind people's backs, which is why I prefer a few friends only who don't know one another.

    Insane, you're right about workplace and adult group bullying. If parents do it, of course their kids will think it's ok.

    I don't know if bullying will ever stop. Adults are learning how to empower themselves against bullies and maybe this teaching will trickle down to the kids. They need coping skills against bullies, just like adults do. Schools need to get more involved. Ban a bully from prom or homecomiing or playing sports (in the U.S. these are major events).

    Once in a while k ids are cool and take a stand, if not against bullying, then toward fairness...without adult help. I will never forget the when I was in highschool (in which I had NO interest in things like prom and homecoming) I was still aware that a very shy girl, mildly pretty, was recruited for homecoming queen by some of the so-called popular kids, who were really just the kids who did the most acitivities in school and thought they were big shots. They were the ones who cared the most about things like homecoming and it worked...she won. I remember being very happy for her.

    But more often bullying happens rather than empowering a shy student. And, yeah, it would be a better world if parents didn't bully their kids, if teachers soemtimes didnt' bully kids (this also happens), if adults didn't bully adults, and if we had a bully-free world. Unfortunately, right now the best we can do is to teach our kids how to defend ourselves with words and to learn how to defend ourselves so that our kids can see that we handle bullying too.
  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    First we have to make it visible. Make it acceptable to "call it out". For all of us. It's harder to fight something that is "invisible".
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  15. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Or something that is just 'for laughs' and you are just showing lack of sense of humour, lack of ability to protect yourself or lack of something, if you feel hurt.

    SWOT: Banning a kid from prom is way too little, way too late. Punishing one doesn't really work for something that is a group dynamic problem. And bullying tends to be at its worst late elementary and middle school anyway. Doesn't make much impression to a first grader if you ban her from prom ten years from now. Nor does banning kids from sports teach them better group skills, but just puts them in danger of being outcasted themselves.

    Kids need to be taught and guided, not just punished. Mediating bullying situations with main players and whole class, and with parents if need to, works much better. They all need to learn how to deal with different people, how to be a nice class mate even if they do not like someone and so on. Picking one 'bully' and letting the brick wall fall on them isn't too helpful and just brings up resentment or makes the former bully a new bullied.

    I for example still feel intense resentment towards those kids who bullied my Ache all those years in emotional level (interestingly enough Ache seems much more talented in art of forgiveness than I do), but rationally I also know most of them have grown to great young people. They are no evil, nor are they adult bullies. Many likely do not even understand how much they hurt Ache. There would not had been any point in punishing them for example by making them trouble in getting to colleges etc.

    I do agree that even rather harsh punishments can be effective if they are done right. One of those worked a long way to solve a bullying in situation in Joy's sport team when they were around 14. When lesser actions didn't help the tournament they had waited a long time was cancelled from all of them and instead they first were expected to stay home couple days to think how everyone of them had influenced to situation that led to this and then they spent quite a few hours with the junior director of the club, their coach and sport psychologist to discuss about it. None of the kids was kicked out of the team but bullying stopped because all the kids understood it was in their very best interest to put the end to it. I also know school trips being cancelled due bullying problem in class and so on. Those type of collective punishments work better because they make all the kids responsible, not just single out one who happens to be loudest or least savvy with it.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    For me the bullying at school was particularly difficult because my mother wouldn't do anything to back me up. These where the children of people that she socialized with. When she asked "Who picks on you" and I answered "everyone" it was true, and her reactions was "If you can't be specific I'll let let it go." And she did. That was the beginning of my descent into trouble.

    There were a few who were particularly awful - two in particular I will never forget - and I will never forgive them. I told my mom that she had done the same with my siblings picking on me as an adult (backed up with emails for her to read as proof) as she had with my classmates as a kid and she told me, "Well you would never tell me what they did so I couldn't do anything. You are the one who's always picked upon, so maybe it's you."

    Yeah, thanks but no thanks for your support, mom.
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    That was me, too.

    But - with what I know now? Sorry, it isn't about the one being picked on. Lots of us have challenges, and we need acceptance, not bullying. Yes, we are different - but we have something to offer, too. Its the differences that make life interesting. Its people who are different who make breakthroughs in the arts, music, finance, engineering, farming and all those other fields of study.

    It is now OK to be different culturally (that got you bullied when I was a kid). It's also OK, usually, to be different physically - wheelchair, cane, cleft lip. Hardly anybody gets away with bullying those any more.

    But... think different? process feelings differently? see or hear what others miss? be a bit unpredictable? act "not normal"? BOOM! target is written all over you.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My mom went to school for golden child and he got to avoid the crowd of abusers. I don't think she went for me. Is she did nothing changed until I learned how to change it myself.