Effects of Bullying on Victims
People who experience bullying usually find themselves in an extremely isolated and lonely place. This sense of being alone is a source of anxiety and stress, which can be overwhelming; the individual may feel that the whole world is against him or her. The sense of isolation that people go through means that they feel they cannot talk about their experience to anyone. Even if they would like to talk about it, they do not know to whom they should talk. Unable to stop thinking about the bullying, and without the reassurance of being able to discuss the problem with others, can lead the individual into a spiral of negative thoughts. This impacts on the individual’s sense of self-worth and can lead to a situation where they blame themselves for the fact that they are bullied. The key point however is that ‘it’s not the victim’s fault’ but often, there is no one to provide this reassurance.
This is where I’m a Friend can help. When anyone who suffers the effects of bullying sees that people are prepared to make a positive statement in relation to such behaviour, it is hoped that they will feel supported. People who wear or display the I’m a Friend symbol are making the following powerful statement
- I do not agree with bullying behaviour.
- I do not accept that it is ok for others to bully me.
- I will support the victims of bullying in whatever way I can.
People who have been bullied in the past have expressed the view that even seeing the logo and understanding what it stands for has been a positive support to them. Seeing others displaying it or having the confidence to wear it themselves is an even more empowering experience.
Statistics in Relation to Bullying
A Trinity College Dublin Study found that almost one third of primary school children have experienced bullying. The rate almost halved for secondary school children, but at 16% this is still worryingly high. In effect, in the average class size, up to five students will experience bullying. In the “Growing Up in Ireland” study that researches the lives of 9-year olds, 40% of children reported being bullied in the previous 12-month period. Interestingly, boys and girls reported similar rates of victimisation. When one transfers the classroom statistics onto a national scale, the extent of the problem becomes apparent. As many as 200,000 children in Ireland are being affected by bullying on a regular basis. Considering the negative impact which bullying has been shown to have on both physical and mental health, this issue is the cause of an incredible amount of pain and suffering for so many children.