It might seem apparent that when a teen has been bullied throughout his or her childhood and adolescence, he or she might be more at risk for mental illness needing teen mental health treatment. Depression, suicide, anxiety, substance abuse, and loss of self are dangerous risk factors for teens who have been bullied over a long period of time.
In fact, the relationship between bullying and mental illnesses were confirmed in a study done by Duke University last spring, revealing that effects of bullying are long-lasting for not only the victim but also for the bully. And a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Psychiatry indicated that bullies as well as victims are at the highest risk to think about and plan suicide.
Furthermore, according to a study done by the American Psychological Association in August of 2013, those adolescents who were bullied throughout their childhood were significantly more likely to go to prison than those teens had not experienced bullying. Almost 14% of those who had been consistently bullied in their younger years ended up in prison as adults. When comparing rates of convictions, more than 20% of those who endured chronic bullying throughout their childhood and adolescence were convicted of crimes. And finally, the study found that this connection between consistent experiences of bullying and legal consequences were stronger for female teens/women than they were for males.
The importance of the study is that it highlights the effect that parents and other adults in a child’s life can have when they help prevent or stop bullying. If a teen is bullying others, it’s a sign that something is wrong in his or her life. And if a teen is being bullied, it’s also a sign that he or she needs emotional and/or psychological support. Regardless, the way that parents or school administrators handle teen bullying and aggression is incredibly important.
Typically, parents or teachers will want to punish a teen for bullying, and rightly so. However, the way that a teen is punished can send the wrong message. Bullying and aggression might be the result of low self-esteem or a behavior disorder, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or conduct disorder. If the punishment is given without a therapeutic means to heal, to understand what’s really going on, without the opportunity for a teen to understand what he or she is doing, then it might continue to occur. If a punishment is given for punishment’s sake then it might be meaningless.
Adults can work with a teen, whether he or she is the aggressor or the victim, to get at the underlying issues. And if one is needed, then seeking a mental health professional might also the right level of support to create change in an adolescent’s behavior. For instance, punishing a child for their bullying shouldn’t be as central as their psychological well-being. Sure, communicating that violence is wrong is an important part to parenting, and at the same time, securing the appropriate teen mental health treatment is just as important.
Because of the relationships between bullying and mental illness many states have bullying prevention programs, which are being implemented in schools. It’s clear that any action towards the prevention of bullying can save a teen’s life!
American Psychological Association (APA). (2013, August 1). Being bullied throughout childhood and teens may lead to more arrests, convictions, prison time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130801142143.htm