infographic-anti-bullying-in-schools

The Effects of Bullying And Anti-Bullying Guidelines For Schools

Being bullied when we were young can have long-lasting adverse effects, particularly if we were sensitive and socially anxious as children. The form that bullying takes can be both overt (blatant and obvious) or much more subtle, The subtle forms of bullying are more difficult to detect, but they include: – betraying a trust – excluding people – isolating people – making unreasonable demands – innuendo and gossip – manipulation When the above techniques are used to bully others, they will also be accompanied by a deliberate attempt to control and/or exclude the person on the receiving end of the bullying. Bullying also involves victimization, humiliation, and intimidation.

EFFECTS OF BULLYING :

Bullying can create social anxiety or reinforce and exacerbate existing social anxiety. Five main areas it can affect in this regard are :

1) Effects on our beliefs

2) Effects on our attention

3) Effects on our behaviours

4) Effects on our self-consciousness

5) Effects on our assumptions.

6) Effects on the brain Let’s look at each of these 5 types of effects in turn :

1) Effects on our beliefs – e.g. people cannot be trusted, I am unacceptable to others,  people will always exclude and reject me, I do not belong, etc

2) Effects on our attention –  constantly and/or obsessively checking on how people are responding to us e.g. are they frowning? do they look bored? do they look irritated? etc. Often, this goes hand-in-hand with imagining a person disapproves of us when there is, in fact, no objective reason to suppose this

3) Effects on our behaviours  – e.g. excessive need for the approval of others, becoming withdrawn and ‘keeping ourselves to ourselves’, behaving according to expectations of others at the cost of our own individuality

4) Effects upon self-consciousness – excessive worry about how we behave/look/speak, excessive concern about offending others, easily embarrassed by even the smallest social error/indiscretion, etc.

5) Effects on our assumptions – e.g. living by the policy that, in social situations, ‘attack is the best form of defense’ leading to over-aggression towards others, the assumption that everyone will take advantage of us, the assumption that we must not get involved with anyone in a position of authority and influence, etc.

6) Effects on the brain. This section requires a little more detail (SEE DIRECTLY BELOW):  

HOW CHILDHOOD TRAUMA CAN AFFECT THE TEENAGERS BRIAN:   A study conducted by Quinlan et al. (2018) on the effects of bullying on the brain and involving the study of 682 teenagers required these young people to fill out questionnaires about the extent to which they experienced bullying. The study ran over a number of years (i.e. it was a longitudinal study) and each of the 682 participants completed the questionnaires at the ages of 14, 16, and 19 years so that it could be ascertained how much bullying each had experienced over a 5 year period.   In order to investigate the effects of bullying on their brains, each of the 682 participants underwent brain scans (MRIs) at the ages of 14 and 19.

LEFT PUTAMAN AND LEFT CAUDATE REDUCED IN SIZE

The results of the study found that being severely and chronically bullied can have the following effects on the brain :   Reduced size of left putaman Reduced size of left caudate

ABOVE BRAIN ABNORMALITIES LINKED TO INCREASES IN GENERALIZED ANXIETY

Quinlan, the leading researcher of the study, suggests that one effect of the above abnormalities is to increase the affected individuals’ level of generalized anxiety.

CORTISOL

Whilst Quinlan did not elucidate the biological mechanisms involved that were causing these effects, it is already known, from other research, that severe, ongoing stress (sometimes referred to as ‘toxic stress’) can cause the body to produce too much of the stress hormone known as cortisol and it is this excess that can damage the brain in various ways such as disrupting synapse regulation, brain cell death and, of crucial relevance to Quinlan’s study, reduction in the size of the brain.

REVERSIBILITY

Quinlan states that, due to the brain’s plasticity, the above abnormalities might be reversible although this matter will need to be investigated further in future research. 

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Previous studies have shown that the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex is also adversely affected by chronic bullying; interestingly, this part of the brain seems to be involved in the generation of both psychological and physical pain which perhaps helps explain why when we experience emotional damage it can manifest itself by giving rise to sensations of pain which feel as if they have a physical component.   Experiencing chronic, severe bullying has also been found to be correlated with: depression, anxiety, complex PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, impaired academic performance, and suicidal ideation.  

 

A study conducted by Quinlan et al. (2018) on the effects of bullying on the brain and involving the study of 682 teenagers required these young people to fill out questionnaires about the extent to which they experienced bullying. The study ran over a number of years (i.e. it was a longitudinal study) and each of the 682 participants completed the questionnaires at the ages of 14, 16, and 19 years so that it could be ascertained how much bullying each had experienced over a 5 year period.

In order to investigate the effects of bullying on their brains, each of the 682 participants underwent brain scans (MRIs) at the ages of 14 and 19.

LEFT PUTAMAN AND LEFT CAUDATE REDUCED IN SIZE

The results of the study found that being severely and chronically bullied can have the following effects of the brain :

Reduced size of left putaman

Reduced size of left caudate

ABOVE BRAIN ABNORMALITIES LINKED TO INCREASES IN GENERALIZED ANXIETY

Quinlan, the leading researcher of the study, suggests that one effect of the above abnormalities is to increase the affected individuals’ level of generalized anxiety.

CORTISOL

Whilst Quinlan did not elucidate the biological mechanisms involved that were causing these effects, it is already known, from other research, that severe, ongoing stress (sometimes referred to as ‘toxic stress’) can cause the body to produce too much of the stress hormone known as cortisol and it is this excess that can damage the brain in various ways such as disrupting synapse regulation, brain cell death and, of crucial relevance to Quinlan’s study, reduction in the size of the brain.

REVERSIBILITY

Quinlan states that, due to the brain’s plasticity, the above abnormalities might be reversible although this matter will need to be investigated further in future research. 

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Previous studies have shown that the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex is also adversely affected by chronic bullying; interestingly, this part of the brain seems to be involved in the generation of both psychological and physical pain which perhaps helps explain why when we experience emotional damage it can manifest itself by giving rise to sensations of pain which feel as if they have a physical component.

Experiencing chronic, severe bullying has also been found to be correlated with: depression, anxiety, complex PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, impaired academic performance, and suicidal ideation.

 

ADVICE ABOUT ANTI-BULLYING POLICY IN SCHOOLS:

infographic-anti-bullying-in-schools

license: Creative Commons

 

REFERENCE:

Erin Burke Quinlan et al. (2018). Peer victimization and its impact on adolescent brain development and psychopathology. Molecular Psychiatry, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41380-018-0297-9

    

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