A cycle of destructive behavior: exploring the depths of oppression and bullying


Lily Longan

Cyberbullying is a major issue in the technological age, with many detrimental effects to those involved

Lily Longan , Reporter

 Most everyone has seen the cliche movie where the mean girls bully their less popular peer until something happens that gives the victim the upperhand for revenge. However, the real world of bullying is not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it seem.

    Victims of bullying can experience body and self image issues, as well as questioning the worth of themselves. Their self esteem, personal life, and mental health can all suffer.

     “If the victim has a propensity towards depression, they’re going to be affected greater [by bullying] and if they have more risk factors, including they are more socially isolated, they don’t feel connected to school, or they don’t have a strong family system, that [bullying] is going to affect them more than a student who has a strong family system, supportive friends, and emotional resilience to face adversity,” said DHS counselor Katie Brandau.

    If you notice a friend that has been distant, you may want to make sure you and others are treating them with kindness and respect. Victims of bullying may express depressed symptoms. They may even be suicidal.

    “It can lead a student to feel more socially withdrawn, and add to depression-like symptoms,” said Brandau.  

    Bullying can lower a student’s self esteem, and lead or add on to issues with mental health, such as anxiety or depression. Victims of bullying can turn to unhealthy methods of coping, such as drug use or cutting.

    “I fell into a very deep depression when I was in sixth grade, I tried to commit suicide seven separate times. I would hurt myself, I would cut my arms and stomach so people wouldn’t see. I had anorexia. It hurt a lot.” said an anonymous DHS student and victim of bullying.

    Those who have been hurt may look for other students as outlets to torment to ease their inner anger, but a victim may also take out their rage onto themselves. Students who have struggled with depression are even more likely to take out their rage onto themselves. In this way, bullying is a reckless cycle of senseless harm.

    As for the form that bullying takes, counselors pointed to one main culprit: the online world.

     “With cyberbullying, you say things that you normally wouldn’t say in a face to face interaction.” said Brandau.

    The easiest way for a bully to get to someone is online. Students expose their personal lives to the world of social media, and it is all too easy for bullies to feel comfortable picking out their insecurities to boost their own egos.

     “The two main ways are online, definitely social media, where you have the benefit of anonymity or distance, and I would say the other way is exclusion, like social manipulation,” said DHS counselor Sean Hembree.

     Bullies use social media or other online platforms to attack people because it gives them the power to avoid meeting with their victim face to face. This construct of anonymity lets bullies have emotional distance from the harm they are causing, and it is easier to get away with social manipulation when a victim has no proof  that another student is out to harm them.

    Bullying is a way for many  former victims to gain power in the same unhealthy way someone did to them, by picking on them and their insecurities.

     “Almost every bully I have worked with has come from a background that has made them feel very vulnerable and made them feel like a victim, and it becomes very appealing to them to establish your power by dominating someone else” said Hembree.

    So what draws the line between someone who is mean and a someone who is a bully?

    “Often teasing and being just mean is misconstrued as bullying and they are not the same thing, so bullying has to be reoccuring, there has to be a power differential, which can exist in socioeconomic status, looks, grades, or popularity.” said Brandau.

    Bullying is a perpetuating cycle, those who have been put down and hurt by others may want to feel the same power over others. That doesn’t mean bullying is excusable.

    “I don’t think they [bullies] understand, and I don’t think that they ever will, because, well maybe they have tough lives, and I get that, but that doesn’t mean you can let your anger out on other people because you never know what’s going on in someone’s life,” said an anonymous student.