BE OUR GUEST: Bullied children will become bullies
Domestic violence among adults and bullying among school children continue to affect families in our Barbadian society.
At the same time, both are causes for concern in some agencies of our criminal justice system. Intimate partner violence continues, while bullying seems to be becoming more popular in recent times especially in our school system.
We need to preserve the emotional, physical, psychological and intellectual well-being of our children who we forecast to be the leaders of tomorrow and the catalyst for change as they become responsible adults. Adults need to lead by example. If this bullying gets out of control, it is highly likely to impact on the mental health of these children being affected.
To support this position, a recent research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Psychiatry, suggested that children who were bullied presented with low self-esteem, depression, and low functioning.
Continued exposure to bullying also has long-term consequences for these children when they reach adulthood. They have an increased chance of developing mental health disorders such as anxiety and panic disorders.
One may ask the reasons for children engaging in bullying. When I examine the behaviours of some adults in our society, I believe that some of their negative behaviour is somewhat to blame for this other type of violence.
Domestic violence is still a major problem in Barbados and because children mimic exactly what adults do, they are highly likely to bully their peers if they witness this type of behaviour in their environment. Some children are also prone to become victims as well. There is a direct link between domestic violence and bullying. Children who were exposed to domestic violence are more susceptible to become bullies.
These children need timely and quick interventions, not only for the victim but also for the bully. Some need to learn appropriate strategies regarding how to treat others and what behaviours to expect from others in any relationship irrespective of its kind.
Quick intervention is paramount because as children make the transition into teenage years and early adulthood, they may believe that this type of behaviour is normal and acceptable.
Once they reach adulthood, they may stay in violent domestic relationships. If given the appropriate boundaries regarding behaviour, they could spot potential violent partners and be prepared to end such friendships and relationships at early stages.
Rennette M. Dimmott is a forensic psychologist, lecturer and author.