Imagine having a nightmare that never ends. One that even in the daytime brings up a deep-seated fear no matter what is happening. As scary as that may seem, it is a reality for victims of bullying. As children, they live through the ordeal, but as time goes on, bullying can have lifelong effects. They can feel the same pain over and over again. A perfect illustration of this is with former Miami Dolphins player Jonathan Martin. His dilemma shows how bullying can affect a child throughout his entire life.
The Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito case has been in the news for weeks. The recently released investigative report by Ted Wells points out how Martin was bullied as an adult, but it sheds light on his mindset because it details how Martin was also bullied as a child. The report details text messages Martin sent to his mother and father. In one text, Martin writes about being bullied in middle school and high school. He goes into detail about never fighting back and how that affected his self-image. It was this same low self-opinion that he would carry into adulthood.
Martin would go on to describe the bullying he suffered as a child, which links directly to the harassment he faced as an adult. He exhibited depression, low self-image and social awkwardness as an adult that most likely stems from his mistreatment during childhood.
It is clear that Martin needed help as a child when he was being bullied. Now, as an adult, he must do the work to cast off the memories of bullying so that he can have a happy and productive life. The effects that stem from childhood bullying can be a horrendous thing to deal with throughout life.
In the 2011 documentary, Bully, there are several heart-wrenching cases of day-to-day bullying. There were real consequences for the victims and even for the bullies themselves. The film sought to lead an effort to make bullying a part of the national debate, complete with initiatives for taking compelling action.
Warning signs that a child may be bullied:
- Unexplained bruises or cuts
- Belongings damaged or torn
- Reluctance to go to school or attend school activities
- Suffers from low self-image
- Appears moody or sad after getting home from school
- Complains of stomachaches or headaches
What to do if bullying is suspected:
Talk with the child. Keep the lines of communication open by letting the child know there are concerned adults who are willing to look out for his welfare.
Talk with the child’s teacher
Ask teachers if they notice possible bullying in school and on the playground. Ask them to communicate with other adults working in the school about possible solutions to bullying, and how to approach doling out consequences.
Based on published reports, it is possible that bullying can affect children throughout their lives. It is best to stop the bullying before it inflicts damage that will likely carry through adulthood.
Opinion by Tony Bowers