Bullies suffer psychological scars too

PETALING JAYA: Bullying is a double-edged sword that can leave psychological scars on both the victims and their perpetrators, say experts.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said bullies suffered too.

“They develop depression as adults due to their poor social skills and unhealthy psychological development.

“This is because gratification came in the form of displaying their power as bullies.

“They often come from dysfunctional families, which is one reason why they resort to bullying,” he said.

A global survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund in conjunction with World Children’s Day found that bullying was a promi­nent concern among Malay­sian children. Seven out of 10 worry about being bullied.

Dr Andrew said bullying behaviour, if left unchecked, could lead to the perpetrator developing an anti-social personality.

This, he added, was characterised by behaviour that was self-centred without empathy, not respecting social norms and the law, as well as having difficulty keeping stable relationships.

He said bullied children might show symptoms such as refusing to go to school, throwing tantrums and bed-wetting.

Assoc Prof Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan, the academic head of the Masters in Counselling Programme at HELP University, said bullying eroded the victim’s self-confidence and self-worth.

Not being able to function well in society, an over-dependence on romantic relationships or avoiding them altogether were among the long-term effects they suffered, she said.

She said a desperation for inclusion could stem from trauma felt by victims from when they were bullied.

Bullying does not only exist in the form of physical assault, name-calling or online harassment.

It can also be in isolating the victim from his or her peers.

“When they (victims) have people on their side and if they get the help that they need, recovery is possible,” said Dr Anasuya.

“It depends greatly on the type of support system available to a person.”