Aggressive persecution by a team on one person is called bullying. Bullying is especially common among adolescents, but it can also occur in adulthood.
Recent research suggests that bullying affects hundreds of millions of children and adolescents worldwide. In some cases, the consequences of bullying are felt after years and even decades.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have recognized bullying as a global issue. However, researchers agree that our understanding of the impact of bullying on the brain and mental health is still limited.
How bullying takes place
Harassment is manifested as repetitive and deliberate verbal, physical and antisocial behavior.
Anyone who mocks others wants to intimidate them, cause harm, often dubbed a marginal. This is because he considers the target to be weak or very different from the rest.
Common forms of bullying among young children are abusive language and physical harm. This behavior can become more sophisticated with age. Sometimes this behavior develops into bullying outside of school walls and continues on social networks.
In fact, bullying can be encountered at any age and in any society that is formed by the principle of chance – a team at work, at a university or school. There are many types and criteria of bullying, but psychologists consider emotional vulnerability to be the most defining.
The more a person who has been persecuted shows weakness in responding to insults, the more this provokes the offender. In other words – emotionally reacting to insults you give the offender what he wants.
Scientists note that bullying in children and adults is no different – and the same mechanisms and criteria operate on the principle of dissimilarity or vulnerability. However, the persecution is spontaneous, so tracking exactly when it started is quite difficult.
The consequences of bullying
Among those who have experienced bullying in their teens, about 10-15% have been harassed regularly – bullying could last more than six months. The experiences associated with this attitude to oneself become the reason for poor performance at school, university, as well as negatively affect the chances of getting a job in the future.
Needless to say, the objects of bullying more often than others suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, stress disorders, and are also prone to suicidal thoughts.
How does bullying affect the brain?
In the past 10 years, scientists have begun to pay increased attention to the impact of bullying on health. In general, we can say that the body responds to bullying as acute stress .
An article published last December in the journal Molecular Psychiatry sheds light on another area of research: brain architecture. Injury caused by prolonged, repeated baiting can affect the structure of the brain, according to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), collected by an international group from King’s College London.
The results confirm the results of previous studies that showed similar changes in children and adults who were abused at a young age. Sometimes bullying leads to physical injury.
According to Tracy Weilancourt, a clinical psychologist from the University of Ottawa, changes in the structure and chemical composition of the brain clearly demonstrate how destructive and dangerous bullying is.
Together with colleagues, Weilancourt hopes that there will be much more such studies in the future. Ultimately, scientists believe that the data obtained can be used to justify political decisions and take the necessary measures to combat bullying.
An earlier study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 also reported abnormalities in certain areas of the brain that are associated with verbal abuse reports.
Neurobiologists note that the brain is plastic throughout our lives. It is thanks to neuroplasticity that we continue to learn, and the environment shapes our behavior. It is not surprising that bullying adversely affects not only mental health but also brain function.
How to deal with bullying?
Fighting bullying alone is not easy. Therefore, experts advise first to seek help. In severe cases, the best solution may be to change your place of residence, work or study. However, scientists call neutrality the most important method of combating bullying.
Any cases of bullying work in a similar way – the offender is waiting for a reaction and the more emotional she is, the better.
That is why it is necessary to remain calm and not show your weakness. Such behavior is likely to lead to the fact that the offender simply disappears interest.
The main thing is not to show the offender that you are offended by his words and deeds
Also, experts advise not to neglect the force of law. In some cases, especially when bullying leads to physical harm, it is worth protecting your rights by contacting law enforcement agencies.