Any child or teenager can become a victim of bullying, regardless of physical, intellectual abilities or financial situation. Psychological trauma is received not only by the participants of the harassment but also by its witnesses. Psychological concepts such as self-concept, self-esteem, and self-presentation are inextricably linked with bullying.
The Definition of Self-concept
There are many ways to think about oneself; the most widely used term is self-concept. It refers to the totality of a complex, organized and dynamic system of beliefs, views and opinions (Shemesh & Heiman, 2021). Each person considers them to be truthful about their personal existence. Parental upbringing, social environment, success and failures, and internal self-criticism are the factors influencing the development of one’s own self-concept. A positive self-image can be developed through objective self-knowledge, self-esteem, friendship with oneself and the presence of positive and rational thinking.
The Definition of Self-Esteem
In psychology, self-esteem is considered as a set of a person’s ideas about oneself, which was formed on the basis of comparing themselves with others. These ideas play a very important role in shaping the image of one’s own self. Consciously or unconsciously, people always compare themselves with others and evaluate themselves from such positions as better, worse, or the same as everyone else (Zhong et al., 2021). First of all, significant, important qualities for society are evaluated.
The Definition of Self-Presentation
The term self-presentation in modern English language signifies a person’s representation of oneself in order to create the right impression among others. Experts divide self-presentation into professional and personal (Holmberg et al., 2018). The first is used in a work or study environment, the second is used in building love and friendship relationships. People can effectively present themselves with a short oral or written story, as well as by posting content to social networks and professional communities.
The Possible Causes of Bullying
Self-esteem directly affects self-worth which consists of self-opinion, expectations, ideas. Low self-esteem is a person’s belittling of their virtues, qualities and capabilities. A person with good self-esteem has healthy relationships with others, excluding the desire to bully someone. The internal problem of low self-esteem can manifest itself externally in different ways. In particular, low self-esteem can be recognized by the excessive self-confidence expressed in bullying designed to hide the vulnerability.
Self-presentation takes place both on the conscious and unconscious levels. It is usually motivated by a desire to please others and satisfy one’s needs. When the need for recognition by others is not satisfied, bullying can be an unhealthy way to fulfill it. Self-presentation can be used as a means of impression management. To create a false impression of a strong person, a teenager can start poisoning other members of the team.
The Impact of Bullying on The Victim
As a result of bullying, the victim usually forms a negative behavioral self-concept. Bullying significantly affects how a person perceives and evaluates oneself. For this reason, both external and internal manifestations of the self-concept change as a result of bullying. The victim begins to question his strengths and focus on weaknesses.
The victim develops low self-esteem as a result of bullying, which develops because of the inability to protect personal boundaries. A person begins to be afraid of failures (Zhong et al., 2021). Moreover, as a result of bullying, the victim has a habit of taking compliments and praise in their own direction with distrust. The victim of bullying loses the skills of self-presentation. The victim begins to present themselves worse than they really are, as they underestimate their own merits.
The Impact of Bullying on The Aggressor
Bullying also contributes to the development of low self-esteem in the aggressor, as they have a feeling of losing control over their lives. Having assumed the role of the aggressor, they try to meet public expectations, seek to rely on the advice of others, and not on their own opinion (Kassin et al., 2017). These factors turn the aggressor into a person with low self-esteem.
The aggressor’s self-presentation is aimed at attracting attention. However, the only way for them to emphasize their virtues and talents is to humiliate others. Internal insecurity allows the aggressor to make a successful self-presentation only in the presence of the victim (Holmberg et al., 2018). Thus, bullying deprives them of independence and the ability to impress without resorting to comparison.
Actions When You See Bullying
It is enough for at least a few people to agree that they will no longer passively watch someone being bullied. You can talk to the aggressors and say that no one likes that behavior, and if they do not stop, you will tell the adults. These are very simple actions, but they do work; if it is clearly shown that nobody supports bullies in the classroom, the bullying will quickly stop.
Actions When You Are Bullied
You can shrug your shoulders or agree with the offenders. They wanted to enjoy your resentment and their power over you. If there is no resentment– there is no point in continuing. Sometimes bullying is not limited to offensive words. This is no longer just harassment, but real violence, and it is prohibited by law. Inform the adults immediately and ask them for help.
Actions When You Are Tempted to Bully
The desire to bully other children is a sign of a dysfunctional situation (most likely, problems in the family). This is a signal that something is not right: you are unhappy, you have a lot of anger, fear and self-doubt. You need to figure out what prompted you to do that, and try to change the situation. For example, you can seek help from teachers or a school psychologist.
Holmberg, C., Berg, C., Hillman, T., Lissner, L., & Chaplin, J. E. (2018). Self-presentation in digital media among adolescent patients with obesity: Striving for integrity, risk-reduction, and social recognition. Digital Health, 4(9), 1-15.
Kassin, S. M., Fein, S., & Markus, H. R. (2017). Social psychology (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Shemesh, D. O., & Heiman, T. (2021). Resilience and self-concept as mediating factors in the relationship between bullying victimization and sense of well-being among adolescents. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 26(1), 158-171.
Zhong, M., Huang, X., Huebner, S., & Tian, L. (2021). Association between bullying victimization and depressive symptoms in children: The mediating role of self-esteem. Journal of Affective Disorders, 294(1), 322-328.