October 2nd is International Non-violence Day – A day to talk about bullying
October 2nd is international non-violence day; a day to spread awareness of bullying and how to address bullying in all of its contexts. Bullying is very common, especially in schools where approximately 46% of children report having being bullied. With the spread of social media, it has become even easier for people to become victims to bullying. There are many aspects of bullying that need to be understood; for example, why someone might exhibit bullying behavior, how the bullied are affected and can be protected, and how to combat the increasing incidence of cyberbullying.
Bullying feeds into the psychological concept of outgroup and ingroup statuses. Many people might not acknowledge that they are being bullied, because of their want to belong in a group. Bullies might target those who are outside of their social circle, or certain outgroups, like people of different religions, ethnicities, sexualities, or those with disabilities. Contrary to how we might think or see in movies, bullying is not as one-dimensional or easy to spot as one might think. Understanding why an individual might partake in bullying is part of the process of decreasing the incidence of bullying nationally. Bullying behavior is not only limited to students, even teachers can display or perpetuate bullying behavior. Increasing awareness of what constitutes bullying behavior among both teachers and students would increase safety at schools.
Bullying and mental health is intricately linked. Someone might be bullied because they have perceived mental health issues, while on the other hand, bullying can cause mental health issues. Incidences of bullying increase the likelihood of children developing anxiety and depression later on in adulthood. Many who experience bullying are also more likely to develop harmful coping methods like self-harm or isolation. It has been found that victims of bullying not only have an increased risk for mental health issues, like depression or anxiety; there are also risks for poorer health outcomes due to the development of drug use or disordered eating as a coping mechanism.
There are, however, signs that can indicate if a student is being bullied or suffering from the consequences of bullying. This would allow us to provide these students with adequate resources to support them as they cope with the psychological repercussions of bullying, which many victims do not often get. These indicators include declining performance in school, isolation, loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, change in weight, self-harm, or changes in behavior.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or you know someone who might be struggling, please feel free to contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections for help! Getting yourself help, whether it is through self-help or by reaching out to professionals is an important part of recognizing that you are struggling; it is also a good step forward in getting the help you need. You can visit Lifelineconnections.org or call 360.397.8246 for more information.