Do not ignore bullying

Bullying In Africa File photo

Tue, 12 May 2020 Source: Dr. Annie Gaisie

For many years, bullying was accepted in many communities as part of toughening a child.

Children were left to endure unpleasant conditions especially in African boarding schools, with the excuse to build their level of resilience.

Did this really work?

Maybe it did but some children were left psychologically traumatised for years into their adult lives.

We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up.

Childhood bullying is so common that it may not seem like a big deal. By adulthood, we are generally expected to have “gotten over” it. But the mental health effects of being bullied can be serious and last a lifetime.

A 2014 study from researchers at King’s College London in the UK found that the negative social, physical and Mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident up to 40 years later.

Bullying is basically a form of intimidation or domination toward someone who is perceived as being weaker. It is a way of getting what one wants through some sort of coercion or force.

It is also a way for someone to establish some sort of perceived superiority over another person. There are different types of bullying.

While some may think that bullying mainly consists only of physical domination, there are verbal and emotional forms of bullying as well.

And, with the rise of the Internet, there are now instances of children being bullied online through email, chatrooms and other sites.

Child bullying is a serious problem in schools around the world, and it can be very harmful, long term, to children.

Child bullying teaches children to take a certain view of what is normal in relationships with other people. It can also damage their own self-image in ways that can affect them for life.

Children who are bullied can be stunted emotionally and socially, as well as see their schoolwork suffer.

Studies show that Approximately 20% of people who have been bullied experience some kind of mental health problems later in life, even at the age of 50.

While some of these, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are easy to spot, others may be more difficult to recognise. These can range from persistent rage of anger to a lifetime of feeling inferior to other people.

Victims of bullying report more severe anxiety symptoms than others. Being bullied is also linked to social anxiety, which often lasts into adulthood and increases the risk of developing personality disorders.

Depression is another negative consequence of bullying.

So if you are struggling with depression or anxiety and have a history of being bullied, there may be a link.

As parents or guardians we need to spend more time with our children so we can support them if they tell you they are being bullied.

When children gather the courage to inform you, don’t ignore it or treat it as irrelevant. Take the necessary steps to ensure the child is safe and the bullying stops.

Work with your child’s school to put systems and programs in place to educate and to stop children being bullied.

Many people have been robbed of their future dreams because they had to give up due to bullying.

Teachers, parents and policymakers need to focus efforts on early intervention to prevent problems caused by bullying persisting into adolescence and adulthood.

By: Dr. Annie Gaisie, Psychologist - Addictive Behaviour.

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Columnist: Dr. Annie Gaisie