Emotional, Physical, or Cyber: Bullying Hurts






I have always disagreed with the pop­­ular “sticks and stones” phrase because the memory of painful words can be incredibly destructive to ones self-esteem.  I still vividly remember the day my sixth grade crush announced that I was the most unattractive girl in school.  I also remember the girl in middle school who told me to put on pants to cover up my cellulite.  I was lucky enough to avoid further events by attending a different high school, but most teens do not have that choice and are broken by the constant abuse from peers.  Continued verbal torment can lead to social and emotional developmental problems, extreme anxiety, and even suicide.

Verbal bullying has taken a new form as we continue to develop Internet sources that can easily spread information.  Recently, while discussing the topic of bullying with a friend of mine, she pulled up a page on the Internet devoted to insulting teenage girls.  Not only were most of them from the same area, but also were from the same school.  Immediately I pictured being the object of ridicule on this taunting site.  How can I possibly show my face again at school?  What did I do to deserve this? Why ME?  Cyberbullying has become increasingly popular as our opportunities for networking increase.  Because of the publicity that social networking provides, and the permanency that it affords, cyberbullying increases the likelihood of depression and  anxiety in teens.

Beyond the emotional distress of being bullied, many are subject to physical pain.  A story that broke my heart was from my cousin Lauren, who plays Becky Jackson on the hit T.V. show Glee.  Lauren has been a positive inspiration as an activist against bullying, fueled by her own traumatic experiences.  She would often say that some of the kids at school would tease her for having downs syndrome and that she did not like being different.  One day at school, a few boys pushed her onto the ground and forced her to eat sand.  For Lauren, this painful memory is a reminder of how her differences have been viewed in a negative light.

Verbal, physical, and cyberbullying all have detrimental effects on the personality and esteem of the individual.  The person being bullied may struggle with depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping and eating, loneliness, and decreased achievement in school.  Often times, these effects will continue into their adult life, leading to increased drug abuse and decreased social stability.  Those who are bullied tend to keep the abuse a secret, because of shame and embarrassment or fear of further pain they may suffer as a result of speaking out; thus, the bullying persists.  If you are concerned that a child, friend, or family member is being subjected to this treatment there are common warning signs to watch for.  It is important to pay attention to the child’s unexplainable injuries, lost items, frequent headaches or stomachaches, self-destructive behaviors, and avoidance of social situations.

We tend to focus solely on the victim and forget that those who bully have their own psychological issues that need to be addressed.  Aggression is a key personality component in those who bully.  Often times this aggression can be verbal or physical toward children or even adults.  Signs that a child is bullying may include difficulty following rules, lack of respect for others’ feelings, failure in school, high concern with popularity, and an inability to take responsibility for actions.  In order to prevent further bullying, the child should see a counselor who can help them develop empathy, interact in a healthy manner, reduce anger, and take responsibility for their actions.  In order to begin to eliminate bullying, one must start with the root of the problem.  The likelihood that the person bullying will turn to substances, drop out of school, and commit criminal acts will often decrease if the underlying issue of aggression is professionally handled.

Bullying knows no limits and is often times extremely dangerous for the well being of the bully and the bullied.  The effects of bullying can also be dangerous for bystanders, those who stand by and watch without interjection.  Often times, bystanders face peer pressure and are afraid of showing vulnerability; therefore, they refrain from doing the right thing and stepping in.  For bystanders, both those being taunted and those who are taunting, it is important to set the standard from early on that bullying cannot be tolerated.

Parents should model empathy through their own behaviors and refrain from physical aggression, which often makes the bullying worse.  The first step in recognizing if your child is a promoter or a victim of bullying is to stay informed of your child’s life by talking to him or her and asking questions.  If you see a specific situation, sensitively discuss the serious consequences that bullying brings about.  Regardless of the child’s position in the situation, the problem should not be ignored.  The longer the bullying persists, the less likely the behavior will change.  The longer we ignore, the more likely these experiences will damage a child’s well being, and could ultimately lead to life-threatening actions.

About the Author

Alexandra McKellar-Kirchoff Alexandra graduated in 2012 from UCSB with her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Applied Psychology.  She has always enjoyed studying psychology, specifically human interaction.  She is currently implementing her leadership experience through her retail management position, while at the same time, interning for Psychalive.  Her passions include writing and singing, and she aspires to get her Master’s in Sociology.  For now, she is staying busy and constantly planning for her future.

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What a well written article, it touched all sides of the problem. Although bullying is not a new problem, cyber bullying takes it to a larger and deeper level. It needs to be talked about and it needs to be addressed. Thank you Alexandra for writing about something so very important! Good job!


Hi. My name is Skyla. I am working on a paper for school and the question that I wanted to ask you is, how does cyber bullying affect kids physically and mentally? For our paper, my teacher said that we need a live source and I was thinking maybe you could help me?

Jina Carvalho

Dear Skyla thansk for your questions did anyone repond to your interesting question let me know and I can see if I can assit


hey great info i,m using it for research paper for school. i’m sorry that stuff happened to your cousin. you did a good job on the topic this is my 3rd year in school choosing this as research topic. glad people care enough to wtight about it

Alex McKellar

Sorry for the late response but thank you for taking time to respond to the article. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart and I’m glad you were able to benefit! I’m pleased to hear you chose this as a research topic, the more we learn the more we can make a difference 🙂


The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me” that’s a lie words do hurt. Bullying and cyber bullying is a huge problem across the United States. It’s not just in one state. It’s not just kids bullying it’s adults to kids at my school are being bullied by adults not working at the school though.


I was bullied all in school, I quit after 10th grade and went to college, NO bullies there. I recommend homeschooling or private schools today since there are too many crazy kids-even teachers in public schools.

Sara Reeves

I was bullied when I was in 1st grade because I was very different just because I could see the dead and people made fun of me because a I had a gift and when I was in 2nd grade I was bullied by a girl named Ailis she said I stole her friend Trinity and me and her r like sisters she was the only friend i had and when we got into 3rd and 4th grade i was bullied to the point to where i wanted to kill myself and i tried cutting myself I thought i wasn’t important and different but then in 5th grade a i met a guy named Danny and me him dated for 2 years he was the only one to understand what i went through and no one would mess with me cause he was really strong and tall so no one messed with him or me and when i was being bullied no one stuck up for me.

Josh trammell

Hello Alexandra McKellar-Kirchoff
I enjoyed reading your post about cyber bullying. I think that any form of bullying has a negative affect on the person. It can be very hurtful and lowers self esteem of the person receiving the bullying. I also think its apparent that the party doing the bullying has some deep self-esteem issues of their own. However, if the bullying is happening because the person has a relationship with Jesus Christ, I think God has given us hope for the future. Mathew 10:22 says, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved”. This gives us strength to know that God knew that we would be looked at differently because of our faith. Its also good to know that people can see something different in our lives, and that’s the love of Christ.

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