Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Bullying and young people

According to recent studies,  bullying is becoming more widespread.

The use of social media in every day life is one factor. Bullies are able to hide behind opaque identities online and can use these to target individuals. And whereas in the past malicious information may have taken a while to spread, with social media, information can spread fast leading to increased humiliation of the victim in a very public environment.

The effects of bullying
"The long-term consequences of bullying are considerable," says Professor Ewan Gillon, Clinical Director of First Psychology Scotland. "When young people are bullied, it can result in a life-time of anxiety in social situations. Adults who were bullied as children can find it hard to trust others."

"Those who experience bullying often isolate themselves from others and this can add to feelings of depression and lack of control over the situation. Cyber bullying can be particularly bad because the victim may not know who is behind the bullying and may start to become paranoid around others. Self-harming and suicidal thoughts are common among those who are bullied. People find the situation hard to tolerate and try to find ways to deal with the pain they experience."

Beating the bullies
With such far reaching consequences on the minds of young people in particular, it is important to think about what you can do to help beat bullying in young people.

Respect Me, Scotland's anti-bullying service, has produced a useful checklist for parents and carers that provides some valuable suggestions about how to help a child deal with bullying.

The website stresses the importance of empowering the child or young person by ensuring they are involved in the decision making process. "Ask the child or young person what they would like to happen next" says www.respect me.org.uk. "Sometimes they won't want you to do anything - just having told someone can often help."

"It is vital that the young person trusts you and feels they can talk to you," says Professor Gillon. "You can really make a difference by helping to rebuild the confidence of a young person.

Further support
If you think your child is suffering from depression or other psychological issues as a result of the bullying, your GP should be able to provide some advice to help manage this or provide further assistance where necessary.

For information and advice about depression, the symptoms, self help and other resources,  read our fact sheet.

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