Sadness and lack of joy

Bullying can also provide persistent sadness and lack of joy.

Voksen som trøster ei trist jente.

In a longitudinal study (6) (ie adhering to a variety of people over time) it was found that being bullied at 14-15 years of age was connected to being depressed and having lower self-esteem in young adulthood (22-23 years).

About the same time, another study (7) reported that being bullied was related to a higher risk of developing depression, compared with youths who were not involved in bullying. They investigated this among 2,342 youths in six schools in New York, from grade 9 to grade 12.

This study also found that being bullied is associated with suicidal thoughts and suicide. Case stories have also been written about this tragic outcome. One of these ("remembering Brian") (8) is about a 15-year-old boy that commits suicide after prolonged bullying. In Norway, two suicides at the beginning of the 80s set in connection with bullying (9), show how dramatic the consequences can be for the victim.

Self image is also affected by bullying, and it seems that the more often you are exposed (ie how often you have been bullied), the lower the self-image (10). Also a French study (11) confirms the connection between being bullied and to have lower self-esteem.

Another phenomenon that is related to bullying is school refusal. This is completely understandable and not unexpected at all. Amongst students who are bullied, there has been found (12) a higher prevalence of school refusal due to them being afraid for their own safety. Furthermore, there is a well-established connection (13) between bullying and discomforts such as headache / stomachache, sleep problems, and sometimes bedwetting.

Text: Professor Thormod Idsøe