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bullying and self esteem

How Being Bullied by Close Friends Affects Self-Esteem

How Being Bullied by Close Friends Affects Self-Esteem 1707 2560 se_admin

When we picture the classic bully, it is typically someone their target doesn’t have a history with who picks on them for no clear reason. This can make it easier for people who have been bullied to feel victimized. However, it also helps them recognize that it may not be personal and that this stranger’s opinion of them does not matter. On the other hand, being bullied by close friends and siblings can warp one’s sense of identity and self-esteem. A recent study suggests that depression and self-harm are more prominent in adults who have been bullied by close friends and siblings throughout childhood.

The Effect of Bullying on Later Mental Health 

In this study, conducted by the University of Warwick, the participants were asked to self-report bullying when they were 12 years old. Depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm were assessed at 24 years old. The effects of childhood bullying were found to be long-lasting, even after participants left environments where they were bullied.

Of 3,881 youths studied it was found that 31.2% experienced bullying by a sibling compared to 27.6 who experienced bullying by peers. Of those who both became victims and bullied siblings, 15.1% were diagnosed with clinical depression, 35.7% experienced suicidal ideation and 16.1% self-harmed with a further 4.9% with the intent of suicide. Those who experienced sibling bullying and peer bullying had double the odds of developing clinical depression and consider suicide.

Lack of Social Support

Sibling bullying is often overlooked as fighting with siblings is accepted as a common family dynamic. Parents struggle to intervene without showing favoritism and often back off to let their children settle their problems on their own. Those bullied at home are more likely to be bullied by peers and have no safe space at school or at home. While parents may be aware of their children fighting, kids are often scared to tell on their siblings, as that might give their sibling a reason to pick on them more. When bringing it up to other people, it is more likely to be normalized rather than seen as significant. Teens who are bullied by their support system worry that reaching out for help would mean losing their only support in other areas. 

Loss of Trust

Teens are also more likely to question their experiences when they are bullied by friends. They may struggle to consider relational aggression and gossip “bullying” because the “bullies” were supposed to be their friends or were at some point. Instead of recognizing mean comments as hurtful and exaggerated, people are more likely to internalize that these negative things about themselves must be true if someone they trust says they are. This can completely distort one’s self-esteem, as it becomes contingent on other people’s perceptions of you. Relational bullying can be traumatic as it is a breach of trust by people who are supposed to be there for you. After realizing they can’t trust people around them who have played a role in shaping their identity, many teens question if they can trust who they thought they were as they begin to see themselves as a victim. 

Difficulty Forming New Relationships

Teens who have been bullied by people they were close to struggle with setting healthy boundaries in relationships. They may be more likely to overlook red flags if they are desperate for connection or if they are used to toxic friendships. They may also overestimate bad intentions from other people and withdraw socially to protect themselves from rejection or abandonment. Quality of early relationships are the strongest predictor of later relationship styles. 

Taking a Relationship-Based Approach to Healing

Residential treatment centers acknowledge that the social culture of an adolescent has a powerful influence on their behavior. Milieu therapy is based on creating a nurturing therapeutic environment, including an inviting campus, supportive staff, and positive peer culture, that helps teens change their beliefs about relationships. Teens who have a history of being bullied by peers are less likely to trust authority figures and more likely to compare themselves to other people and believe they do not measure up. At Solstice East, our goal is to help students recognize their strengths, rebuild self-esteem, and repair relationships with their peers and family members. 

Solstice East Can Help 

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 who are reclaiming their sense of self after experiencing traumatic events, depression, and addictive behaviors. We help young women heal from emotional pain by reintegrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate with others. Through adventure activities and creative expression, we encourage girls to explore their passions and strengths and empower them to make healthy choices. As a relationship-based program, we emphasize rebuilding family relationships and developing close bonds with mentors, staff, and peers.

For more information about how we help girls who have been bullied, call 828-484-9946.

bullying and substance use

Bullying May Lead to Substance Use In Teen Girls

Bullying May Lead to Substance Use In Teen Girls 2373 3560 se_admin

Bullying is a serious problem among teen girls. Not only in how it affects their view of relationships, but as a risk factor for loneliness, depression, suicide, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Bullying can completely warp one’s sense of self and safety, which can lead to long-lasting emotional consequences, long after incidents of bullying stop. Girls who have been victims of bullying are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with negative emotions.

  • Bullying is most prevalent in middle school, while substance use is more common among high school students
  • Students who are involved in bullying are more likely than those not involved to try alcohol or other drugs
  • Adverse childhood experiences are associated with developing unhealthy coping mechanisms later on in life

Depression is the Missing Link

A study conducted by the University of Washington suggests that bullying-related depression among adolescent girls may lead to increased substance use. A key finding of this study was gender differences in the role substance use plays in coping with depression and victimization. Bullying was linked to substance use in both males and females, but depression was only associated with victimization, not substance use in boys. 

This suggests that bullying takes a more significant toll in girls’ emotional wellbeing and can lead to destructive coping mechanisms. This is significant as girls are usually expected to internalize emotional issues while it is assumed boys are more likely to act out.

Another reason contributing to gender differences is that girls place more value on social relationships, therefore the effects of bullying tend to be more devastating. Girls are also more vulnerable to cyberbullying due to higher levels of social media use, which means that bullying may not stop when the school day ends. 

Reasons Why Teens Turn to Substance Use


  • While boys often turn to substance use as a social activity, girls are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with emotional issues. 
  • Boys may be more likely to experience negative consequences due to risky behaviors associated with substance use, but girls are more likely to develop an emotional attachment to substances that contributes to addictive patterns. 
  • They learn quickly that they can change the way they feel by using substances through numbing emotional pain, increasing feelings of pleasure, or reducing feelings of anxiety. 
  • Sensation-seeking teens seek out new experiences to fight boredom and chase thrills.



How Bullying Plays a Role in Substance Use

Teens who have been a victim of bullying often feel socially isolated and desperate for connection. Bullying and rejection sends them messages that they are worthless and unlovable and these narratives can be hard to challenge. This can interfere with their motivation to connect with others, their ability to feel comfortable being themselves, and their desire to escape from potentially uncomfortable social situations. 

Over time, substance use can have a similar effect, but before problems compound, teens learn that substances can meet this need for connection in a variety of ways. 

  • Many substances increase levels of the “love hormone,” oxytocin, which reduces social anxiety and increases empathy for others. 
  • Drinking and smoking is usually a social activity for teenagers, which helps isolated teens feel more included.
  • As substance use is often a matter of accessibility, teens develop relationships with other substance-using peers in order to find drugs and alcohol, even if those relationships lack emotional intimacy.
  • While “peer pressure” is considered a myth regarding substance use, it is true that many teens think using substances will make them look cool or help them fit in. In some cases, they believe it will help them stand out less.
  • Due to behavioral inhibition and numbing negative emotions, teens experience less social anxiety that have dominated their past social experiences.

A Holistic Approach to Finding Authentic Connection

Just as none of these issues exist in isolation, addressing these complex issues requires a multidimensional approach. Residential programs provide a supportive healing environment for girls struggling with relationship issues and destructive behaviors to build authentic connections with others. Removed from negative influences in their home environment, girls have the opportunity to focus on themselves and explore their strengths.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors, like substance use, that often emerge as a way to cope with the effects of bullying and trauma. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives.

Contact us at (855) 672-7058. We can help your family today!


Cyber Bullying Is a Real, Dangerous Threat to Teen Health

Cyber Bullying Is a Real, Dangerous Threat to Teen Health 150 150 se_admin

Each year, it seems like technology ingrains itself deeper and deeper into our daily lives. Instead of the internet only being accessed through a computer back in the late 90s and early 2000s, nearly 3 in 4 teens has access to a smartphone connected to the internet. A device that can easily be carried around in their pocket all day and night. While this has massive benefits for communication, it also has downsides–such as cyber bullying.

Bullying has evolved. What once took place only in the school yard extends much further now. The tendrils of bullying know few bounds; with the help of technology, they can reach a teenager with a smartphone nearly 24/7. Cyber bullying isn’t something to take lightly–especially since it’s becoming more and more common. Whether your child is the perpetrator or victim, it’s something extremely serious.

What to do if your child is the bully

Teen bullies exist–otherwise there wouldn’t be any victims–but how do you deal with it when you find out it’s your teen that’s bullying others? It’s definitely a conundrum for those parents. For many, their response is to deny it and continue on blindly; for others, they come down on their child hard with intense consequences with little explanation. It’s relatively easy to find advice on what to do if your child is bullied, but very little on what to do if your child is the bully.

Experts say there’s a certain way to go about it that can be most beneficial to your child.


  • Find the facts. Instead of immediately blowing up on your teen, sit them down and come at them with a willingness to listen to their explanation–no matter how upsetting. Try to pinpoint whether there are areas of their life causing them to express anger in such a damaging way to others.
  • Emphasize the severity of their actions. Cyber bullying leads some teens down a very dangerous path. As a parent, it’s your job to calmly talk to your teen about the potential impact of their actions through cyber bullying. They may have done it because they thought it was “funny” or that it would get “likes”, but you need to emphasize that those things don’t make it acceptable at all.
  • Natural consequences. Our actions have consequences and your teen needs to know that. You must be clear and mindful in the privileges your revoke and consequences you dole out for cyber bullying behavior.
  • Taking responsibility for your actions. You have to be a role model to your teen, which means you must practice taking responsibility for your actions to make sure they know that’s what they need to do as well. Encourage them to own up to their actions, apologize to those they’ve targeted, and change their behavior for the future. Also make sure they know you’re there for support when they need it.


Solstice East offers treatment for cyber bullying behavior in girls

Solstice East is a residential treatment center which offers help for cyber bullying and other issues in girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, bullying, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. When treating cyber bullying behavior, we strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness through meaningful therapy and a nurturing environment.

For more information about how we can help with cyber bullying at Solstice East, please contact us at 828-484-9946.

Deep Wounds: The Long Lasting Effects of Childhood Bullying

Deep Wounds: The Long Lasting Effects of Childhood Bullying 150 150 se_admin

Most of us have been bullied once or twice in our lives. Maybe for some, they were the ones doing the bullying. As a child it may have seemed like harmless fun, but according to a recent article by Science Daily, new research has found that the effects of childhood bullying have the equivalent negative psychological effects on girls as severe physical or sexual abuse.

The Research

A study which involved 480 college freshman through seniors, indicated that the detrimental effects of childhood bullying may linger for years. Due to this it can cause negative affect’s on youth’s mental health will into early adulthood.

Participants in the study were surveyed about their exposure to a variety of traumatic experiences—including childhood bullying, cyberbullying and crimes such as robbery, sexual assault, and domestic and community violence—from birth through age 17. Students also reported on their psychological functioning and symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The students who experienced childhood bullying reported higher levels of mental health problems than their peers.

The Results

Females in particular struggles with the effects of childhood bullying, and reported significantly greater levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD than their male peers. Dorthy Espelage, an Educational psychologist and conductor of the study states:

“The prevalence of psychological distress in children who have been bullied is well-documented, and this research suggests that college students’ psychological distress ay be connected in part to their perceptions of past childhood bullying victimization experiences.”

Practitioners, in collaboration with school officials, need to make more of an effort to develop and put in place programs that decrease the negative effects of childhood bullying. Creating clubs or programs that could teach children suffering from trauma how to feel confident, safe, and empowered could help eliminate later mental health issues from the effects of childhood bullying.

If your child is experiencing negative effects of childhood bullying, there are programs available that can help.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East can help, please call 828-484-9946!

Don’t Let Your Teen Bully You: Putting An End To Manipulative Teen Behavior

Don’t Let Your Teen Bully You: Putting An End To Manipulative Teen Behavior 150 150 se_admin

Most people hear about teens bullying other teens. But what happens when teens begin bullying their own parents? And why does this happen? If you have a manipulative teen on your hands, defending yourself can be rough at times. A manipulative teen can make you feel helpless and insecure about your parenting skills overall. Why should your teen be capable of bullying you? YOU are the parent after all!

Why do teens bully their parents?

Often, children who bully their parents believe their parents will put up with whatever behavior they throw their parents’ way. This is usually due to parents being too accommodating and permissive to their children’s’ behavior.

Why is this permissive behavior occurring? Some say it’s because the troubled childhoods parents had are coming back to haunt them.  One reason, according to Sean Grover LCSW, author of When Kids Call the Shots, parents are trying to rebel against the way they were raised by their own parents.

According to Grover, many parents who are bullied by their own children were once upon a time bullied by their own parents. Their own parents’ strict, harsh authoritarian parenting style inspired them to tell themselves that they would never treat their children the way their parents treated them. However, by giving teens too much freedom you may be allowing them to continue manipulative teen behaviors that should not be put up with.

Stopping manipulative teen behavior

Manipulative teen behavior can be a hard thing to crack down on. After all, they are your child and you want them to have all the happiness in the world. However, sometimes it is important to say “enough is enough” and lay down the law. Here are some ways to crack down on manipulative teen behavior and stop the bullying once and for all!

  1. Consistent consequences for behaviors: Every time your child tries to pull manipulative behaviors over you (lying, emotional retaliation, revenge, etc.), you must enforce consistent consequences. Sit down with your teen and write up a consensual contract that details house rule and consequences. If your child breaks those rules, they will have to face the consequences set down in that document. If consequences are not followed through, they are meaningless. So stick to them!
  2. Honesty is key: Most teens can tell when they are being lied to; they aren’t dumb. Creating an environment full of honesty and trust helps prevent manipulative behaviors. In an honest household, there is no room for manipulation.
  3. Pause arguments to think: During fights with your child, it’s hard to think straight. You might say something you’ll regret. That’s why it’s important to pause the battle with your child and tell them you need to time to think about their behavior.  You can then come back with a clear head and come up with an appropriate response to whatever you were arguing about.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East, a residential treatment center for teens ages 14-17, can help your struggling daughter find success.

For more information about Solstice East, please call (855) 672-7058.


Importance of Art Education: Classes Help Kids with Autism 

Importance of Art Education: Classes Help Kids with Autism  150 150 se_admin

Experts Are Arguing the Importance of Art Education in Autism

The importance of art education is something that has been continuously debated within our society. Many people believe that there is no need for art education to be included in school curriculum. Children only need to learn the fundamental skills including math, science, English, or history. But others believe that the arts provide a form of education that challenges students who don’t always excel in the fundamental curriculum. If you’re on the edge in what you think, experts today argue the importance of art education for kids with Autism. A recent article by Romper discusses how art education can improve social skills for kids with Autism.

School Integration

Recently, more schools have been integrating students with high-functioning Autism into traditional classrooms. While this provides multiple benefits for Autistic children and their peers, it can have its challenges when it comes to social interactions. Experts argue the importance of art education for this reason. They believe certain art classes like drama, can help kids with autism learn social skills and help them in real-world interactions. Drama class exercises like role-play and improve, provide kids with high-functioning Autism experience and practice at common social interactions.

Theory of The Importance of Art Education

Researchers tested the theory of the importance of art education in Autism on a group of Autistic children studying at the SENSE Theatre program run by Blythe Corbette, an associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. In this program Corbette and a group of specially trained “peer models”, taught kids with high-functioning Autism basic drama exercises. They compared the children in her program with a control group. She found that the drama students were better able to recognize faces, understand different perspectives, and regulate anxiety. Brain imaging also revealed that their brains were more similar to those of children without Autism.

The Benefits of Art Education

Corbette explains that these changes occurred because improvisation exercises require the participants to be flexible and rely on the social cues of their partners. Many children with Autism rely on internal scripts to deal with social interactions, which makes acting a language they’re already familiar with. Children with Autism can experience challenges with verbal and non-verbal communication. A child with Autism’s inability to interact in socially acceptable ways can lead to negative experiences and responses from their peers, including bullying and avoidance. This research reveals the importance of art education remaining a part of school curriculum. The importance of art education is not only shown in Autism but also for kids who simply struggle with social skills. Drama therapy teaches social skills in a fun and enjoyable way. Art education can drastically benefit a kid’s life, much more than a basic math equation or fact about history.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18, grappling with teen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other emotional or behavioral issues. We strive to help our girls lead themselves back onto a path of health and happiness.

For more information about how Solstice East handles art education, please call 828-484-9946!

Bullying in Teen Girls and Boys a “Public Health Problem”

Bullying in Teen Girls and Boys a “Public Health Problem” 150 150 se_admin

In a recent article by CNN, the dangerous effects of bullying on young minds is examined. The prevalence of bullying in teen girls hasn’t changed much, but part of it has transferred to online instead of taking place in the schoolyard. Bullying has the power to turn a young girl’s world upside down. It has the ability to affect academic performance and seriously damage health–mentally and physically. In a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; it was stated that bullying needs to be perceived as a “serious public health problem” because of the immense damage it can inflict on young people.

The effects of bullying in teen girls

Bullying takes its toll on a child mentally and physically. Not only can it cause depression, anxiety, and lead to substance abuse, it can physically manifest itself by causing headaches, sleep deprivation, and gastrointestinal issues. Researchers in the report noted that bullying can affect the part of the brain associated with the stress response system; it messes with regulating emotions and cognitive functions.

The bullied are not the only ones who experience harsh effects; the bullies also suffer. Both children who are bullied and bully others have a higher chance of attempting or thinking about suicide. Bullies are more likely to struggle with depression, engage in risky behaviors (ex. drug use), and have a greater chance of lower social and psychological futures.

Bullying is on the rise

The prevalence of bullying was discussed in the article. It was found that around 18 to 31 percent of children experience effects from bullying; while cyberbullying was only around 7 to 15 percent, but was considered rising. Kids who identify as LGBT, have less friends of the same ethnicity, are obese, or disabled are at a higher risk for being bullied.

How to deal with bullying

Schools are actively working to combat bullying, but they can only do so much. Parents have a duty to educate their children about the dangers of bullying in teen girls and boys. Make sure your child knows they have your support if they do experience bullying. Emphasize the importance of not bullying others and alerting an adult if they witness bullying.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center that treats young women, ages 14 to 18, experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, other emotional or behavioral issues, and handles issues that have arisen due to bullying in teen girls. We strive to help our girls work towards a successful future.

For more information about how Solstice East handles bullying in teen girls, please call 828-484-9946.