As we all know, bullying has very negative consequences for the victim. Most targets of bullying do not start with low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Instead, they only develop those terrible characteristics over the course of the bullying.
Many times, targets go from being well-mannered, highly confident and good-hearted students who perform well and earn excellent grades, to becoming poor students with shattered self-esteem and bad attitudes who perform poorly. The excellent grades they once received take a nosedive, and before you know it, the straight A’s these kids started out making are now C’s, D’s, or worse! Understand that in children and teens, whose brains are still developing, these life-altering changes can happen in a very short time.
Bullies assert power and control through abusive measures- verbal abuse, such as name-calling, curse-outs and threats, smear campaigns to keep the target isolated and from making any new friends, brutal physical beatings, humiliation, baiting the victim to react and get into trouble with school staff, and much, much more. These tactics are all designed to keep the target down and instill fear into the target, and once the bullies reach these goals, the victim is trapped.
So often, bullies bully and harass these poor kids to the point of losing faith and confidence in themselves, and a condition known as Learned Helplessness takes hold. In short, the target gives up and stops trying. In essence, the victim becomes what the bullies want them to be. They become the villain instead of the victim.
Bullies are often popular and have connections in the school and the town. They are mostly academic high-achievers, jocks, cheerleaders, members of clubs and extra-curricular functions, and those who are favored by teachers and school staff. They target those who are different- kids who stand out, who are a threat to their positions in the social hierarchy, who are exceptionally talented (more talented then the bullies are), who are good kids with hearts of gold, and who are physically smaller and weaker.
And because of the popularity of these bullies, the target is least likely to be believed if they report the abuse and receive support. Popularity itself can be a weapon of against the victim and a shield against accountability for the bullies. It can also intimidate and silence targets.
“This person is so popular and well-liked. Who’s going to believe me if I talk about how she beats and torments me every day?”
Bullying damages kids in all areas of life, and we must learn to recognize the signs if we want to save these young people from a life of adversity and eventual suicide. Only then will we be able to help these children get back their confidence, change directions, and lead them back toward more rewarding and happy lives.