Most every child will undergo periods of teasing or bullying in school or during other activities. While many children are able to overcome teasing, others can be left with long-lasting emotional scars. In fact, 9 to 15 percent of children experience chronic teasing and bullying that can be harmful, suggests a 2004 study by June Andrews Horowitz published in the "Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association." These scars can affect both present behavior as well increase the risk for psychological and academic hardships throughout school and into adulthood.
One of the primary effects of teasing on a child is a significant drop in self-esteem. Teasing typically zeroes in on characteristics of a child that are considered "different" from others in the school. When other students focus on and mock these differences, a child can feel abnormal, unwanted or ashamed of who they are -- even if there is no reason to feel this way. Low self-esteem can continue past childhood and into adulthood, affecting such areas as employment and relationships.
Depression and Anxiety
Constant teasing can contribute to the development of mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. The loss in self-esteem and the mean-spirited manner of teasing can affect your child's overall mood. A child may lose interest in activities or building relationships where they feel they may be different from others around them. Being teased often also causes sadness, contributing to symptoms of depression. Anxiety may also build in a child, either from fear of the person who is teasing them or fear of being teased by others. Unfortunately, teasing-related depression can persist into adulthood, which can be connected to past memories of being teased, suggests research from Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety.
Being teased or bullied can also have a significant impact on academic performance. Being teased will often distract your child from being able to focus on schoolwork the rest of the day, especially if the person teasing is in the same class. Less focus and less interest in school may result in drops in academic performance. Teasing may also cause your child to not want to go to school at all if the teasing is constant or if teasing has progressed into threats, physical contact or other bullying.
Becoming a Bully
Unfortunately, being teased can cause your child to react by bullying other children. Bullying provides an outlet for a teased child to release frustration and feel powerful over another child to cope with feeling inferior to the other children that tease him. However, this is not always the case, and more research needs to be completed on the subject to make a clear connection to teasing and becoming a bully.
- U.S. Department of Justice; Bullying Among Children and Youth; Susan P. Limber, et al.; April 1998
- Scholastic: Bullying and Teasing: No Laughing Matter
- "Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association"; Teasing and Bullying Experiences of Middle School Students; June Andrews Horowitz; August 2004
- "Journal of Anxiety Disorders;" The Relationship Between Memories for Childhood Teasing and Anxiety and Depression in Adulthood; Roth DA; 2002