Bullying is aggression that is done purposefully by one or more people and repeated on the same target individual (Orpinas & Horne, 2006). It is also the use of superior strength foe intimidation of a weaker individual to do something out of his or her willingness. A targeted individual is usually a person who cannot defend himself or herself. Aggression and bullying are two related concepts and constructs which people need to differentiate. Noteworthy, aggression is often a one-time act whereas bullying occurs repeatedly. The victims of bullying are powerless or weak while aggression can involve two individuals of equal strength or power. Some of the common types of bullying include verbal bullying, physical bullying, and cyberbullying. The increasing suicide rate among teens is due to these forms of bullying, among others.
Cyberbullying does not have a single definition to date due to the many methodological approaches to the definition. For the purpose of this research, cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over an electronic medium (Saleh, Grudzinskas (Jr.), & Judge, 2014). Cyberbullying leads to suicide among the youth (Townsend, 2014; Kosut, 2012).
Because of this, many researchers have interest in bullying research. For example, Hinduja and Patchin (2010) examined the degree to which cyberbullying causes suicidal ideation among the teenagers. The sample for this study comprised of about 2,000 6th to 8th graders from 30 high schools in the USA. Findings from this study showed that victims of cyberbullying 20% had to suicide ideation and seriously thought about attempting suicide. On the other hand, 19% attempted suicide (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).
Cyberbullying takes many forms. The most common way through which cyberbullying occurs is by posting posted content online with the intention of making others laugh. Victims of cyberbullying also complain to have received an upsetting email from someone they know. Cyberbullying has been shown to have a direct effect on suicide ideation (Middelton-Moz & Zawadski, 2014). Further, cyberbullying victimization was reported to strongly predict suicidal thoughts and behaviors (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010).
Smith et al. (2008) have identified different media of cyberbullying and age and sex differences in cyberbullying. There are seven different media of cyberbullying. They include Chatroom, website, instant messaging, picture/video clip, email, text message, and phone call. Among the different media of cyberbullying, the most common type was reported to be text messaging. One of the reasons why bullies prefer text messaging is due to its anonymous nature. Cyberbullying was reported more outside the school than inside. The main reason why cyberbullying is less in schools compared to outside of the school is because phones were not allowed in schools. Girls were more likely to be victims of a cyberbully and to be cyberbullied, according to the study. There are also more cases of cyberbullying in individuals who have higher internet usage.
Bauman, Toomey, and Walker (2013) investigated the relationship between depression, suicidal ideation, and cyberbullying and victimization experiences of high school students. The sample for this study comprised of 1491 high school students (51% male) recruited from the 2009 Arizona Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The recruitment of participants for the study was by two-stage cluster sampling. The results of the analysis revealed that bullying leads to depression in the victims. Additionally, this study shows that male and female victims of bullying have different levels of depression. Female victims of bullying reported higher depression rates, 1.73 times, than their male counterparts. Similarly, the study shows gender differences regarding suicide ideation. The female victims had a higher likelihood, 1.73 times, of contemplating suicide and a more likely, 1.63 times, more likely to state that they had suicide plan and had a higher likelihood, 1.43 times, of having attempted suicide compared to the male victims. In the same study, no statistically significant gender difference regarding being a victim of cyberbullying is noticeable in the study. However, the male respondents reported having cyberbullied others more than the females.
Across grade level, participants in the 12th grade had a higher likelihood of being electronically cyberbullied than their counterparts in the lower grade levels. Similarly, 12th-grade students reported cyberbullying others more than those of lower grades. Regarding suicide attempts, 9th grade students were more likely to attempt suicide than those from other grades. No differences in cyberbullying-related depression were reported across grade levels. A strong association was found between cyberbullying-related depression and considering suicide. Compared to traditional bullying methods, cyberbullying is more likely to mediate the relationship between bullying-related depression and considering suicide (Bauman, Toomey, & Walker, 2013).
LeBlanc (2012), in a retrospective analysis of past studies on cyberbullying, established that suicide ideation in cyberbullying was more common in females than males. In cases of suicide ideation, mental illness was reported to be higher. The risk of suicide linked to cyberbullying was reported to be higher at the start of the school year and during the winter term. Additionally, social media platforms were found to be a key driver of cyberbullying.
Verbal bullying refers to bullying that occurs through word of mouth. According to Bullying Statistics Organization (n.d.), verbal bullying can also have harmful effects just like physical bullying. The main objective of this type of bullying is to lower the self-esteem or the self-image of the victim, thus making the bully look powerful and dominant. Verbal bullying is common in girls. Girls employ this type of bullying to show that they are superior to their colleagues. Perpetrators of verbal violence have certain distinct characteristics. They have a history of physical and sexual abuse, mental illnesses, negative self-image and self-esteem, and weapon possession (Borowsky, Taliaferro, & McMorris, 2013).
Verbal bullying has damaging effects on the victim. It is detrimental to the victims self-image and affects the victims both emotionally and psychologically. It kills the self-esteem of the victims, thus leading to depression and related mental illnesses. When depression becomes too much to bear, victims of verbal bullying may try to escape it through suicide. Others resort to drug abuse. (What is Verbal Bullying and How to Handle Verbal Bullies, 2015).
Recently, there has been an increased interest in studies on verbal abuse and suicide due to increased cases of verbal bullying-related suicided across the world. Victims of verbal bullying are two to nine times more likely to resort to suicide than those who are not victims of verbal bullying. In Britain, half of the suicide cases are due to verbal bullying (Rollins, 2011). Statistics related to verbal bullying also show that more than half (52%) of the children are victims of verbal abuse. Some of the ways children in which verbal bullying occurs are through name-calling, vilification, humiliation, and rejection. Verbal bulling also causes suicide in youths (Marr & Field, 2001).
Borowsky, Taliaferro, and McMorris (2013) conducted a study aimed at identifying the risk and protective factors associated with suicide ideation as well as with suicidal attempts among participants involved in verbal and social bullying. The results of this study showed that girls had a higher likelihood of being engaged in suicidal thoughts or behavior following verbal bullying than boys. Suicide thinking was highest in the ninth graders compared to the sixth and twelfth graders. Among the victims of verbal bullying, some of the risk factors associated with increased suicidal thoughts include children without both biological parents, being from a non-white family background, and those benefitting from free or subsidized lunch.
Several other factors were reported to elevate the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. First, the risk of suicide is higher among youth with a history self-harm behavior. A child with a history of sexual abuse, mental illnesses, and fleeing home in the past year have higher risks of suicide. Victims of verbal suicide who had earlier witnessed family-related violence, those with a physical abuse history, marijuana users, cigarette smokers, and those who had higher truancy rates linked to school safety concerns were reported to have higher suicidal thinking and suicidal attempt rates. Moreover, verbal abuse is more likely to lead to suicide if the victims have higher impulsivity, are not socially connected to their parents and other adult individuals, do not feel they are being properly cared for by their teachers, have poor academic performance, have a sedentary lifestyle, and do not perceive that their schools and neighbourhoods are safe (Borowsky, Taliaferro, & McMorris, 2013).
Physical bullying refers to any bullying that leads to hurting of the body or damages the victims possessions. Some examples of physical bullying include hitting, biting, kicking, grabbing, shoving, and pushing (Kim & Leventhal, 2008). Even though it can take place on the way to school or from school, physical bullying is more prevalent in the school. This type of bullying is more likely to be observed in middle school. All the middle school children are affected by physical bullying, both directly and indirectly. Because middle school age is when teenagers want to be part of a group and to fit into a peer group, some of the children are highly likely to physically bully others and not to discourage bullying behaviors to fit in. Conversely, those who are opposed to bullying are more likely to be victims. In addition to middle school, physical bullying is also observable in high schools through adulthood (Bullying Statistics Organization, n.d.).
Physical bullying is prevalent in males, both as victims and as perpetrators. However, females can also be victims as well as perpetrators. Bullies have given different reasons for bullying others. Some of the most stated reasons include the need to have control over others and the need to fit in. Perpetrators of bullying have also been reported to be physically more powerful than the victims and to have friends who support such behaviors. Bullies have also been found to have problems with self-control, adhering to set rules, and caring for others. On the contrary, victims of physically bullying have been found to be physically weaker. Additionally, victims of bullying are more likely to be from socially marginalized groups. Some of the forms of social marginalization include ethnic-based marginalization and marginalization based on body physique. Some of the consequences of physical bullying on the victims include depression, poor self-image, troublesome behavior at school, and manifestation of violence (Bullying Statistics Organization, n.d.).
Physical bullying and suicidal thinking and suicide lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem have also been correlated with perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Victims of physical violence develop their suicidal behaviors through pathways such as prostitution, drug use, and violent behavior. These behaviors have been found to increase a victims capability of self-harm (Litwiller & Brausch, 2013).
According to Litwiller and Brausch (2013), physical bullying results in behaviors such as substance abuse, violence, and early sexual behaviors. These behaviors mediate the relationship b...
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