Bullying has received added attention in recent years, and for a good reason. We are, unfortunately, living through something of a “golden age” of bullying. Social media harassment has come to complement traditional means of bullying in such a way as to allow bullies evermore tools with which to torment their targets. Even our most powerful politicians use their social media platforms for the purpose of political bullying and torment.
In the past, many saw bullying as wrong, yes, but still something of a “rite of passage” which we must all endure in our adolescence in order to become “tough” and “strong.” Some still cling to those views today. However, we live in an age where school shootings, rape, teen suicide, and other crimes and incidents born in part from bullying have spread like a cancer.
However, for this generation, our time to do something about that may be running short. Bullying can dramatically impact the targeted individual’s brain with detrimental effect.
A Long-Term Problem
Bullying is simply not something that one must “endure” until it is over, in part because, according to the latest research, for those targeted, its effects may never truly end. Recent studies have shown that at least two regions of the brain (the left putamen and caudate) suffered sharp decreases in development in subjects who were seriously and routinely bullied.
That kind of stunting of the brain’s growth can and, in these cases, has helped lead to increased anxiety throughout the patients’ life.
Toxicity and Stress
In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that this kind of persistent bullying can lead to toxic influences on the brain’s development. This type of “toxic stress,” like certain hormones, alters the development of the brain, in these cases towards more anxiety-ridden, less-healthy states.
All of this points to what should already be clear – that toxic culture of bullying and hazing must stop. As more research comes out regarding the long-term damage of bullying, it becomes all the more clear that we must do everything we can to address this social problem.