Every year, April is recognised as the Child Abuse Prevention Month since it was first designated so by the US President Ronald Reagan back in 1983. It was formed because child abuse and neglect were both, sadly, too widespread and too often invisible. This month aims to recognise the importance of communities and families which work together to strengthen families in order to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Bullying: A form of child abuse that we often forget about
When we think of child abuse, the first things that come in our mind are something along the lines of child labour, child trafficking, child marriage, physical or sexual abuse, etc. But what we often forget about when we think of child abuse is the ever-growing problem of bullying. Bullying in schools is something that many children have to go through every day, and is often wrongfully simply deemed as a ‘normal rite of passage’. It is the systemic abuse of power and is defined as aggressive behaviour or intentional harm doing by peers that is carried out repeatedly and involves an imbalance of power, either actual or perceived, between the bully and the victim (Olweus, 1993).
The consequences of bullying on the mental health of the victims
As bullying is something that is often overlooked or is usually immune to the actions taken by the superiors, such as teachers, one can only imagine how mentally and emotionally harrowing it must be for the victims. The children who face bullying have significantly higher chances of developing depression and psychosomatic symptoms when compared to children who are not involved in bullying. They can face sleeping problems, pain in abdomen, bed-wetting, or tiredness. They have been found to be fearful, anxious, and have slightly lower self esteem than their peers who did not face bullying. It has even been found that being a victim of bullying in childhood can lead to long lasting effects on individuals and they may face issues in forming lasting relationships, becoming financially independent, and integrating into work.
After knowing all of these factors, the need to foster an empathetic environment in classrooms becomes more important than ever. It is also very important for adults who may have faced bullying in past to seek mental health care if they feel that it is currently interfering with their lives. One can also reach out to You’re Wonderful Project; through our Instagram (@yourewonderfulproject) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org where our peer support team helps provide referrals to qualified mental health professionals.
1. Aludese, O. (2006). Bullying in Schools: A Form of Child Abuse in Schools. Educational
Research Quarterly, 30(1), 37–49. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ747619
2. Awiria, O., Olweus, D., & Byrne, B. (1994). Bullying at School - What We Know and What We Can Do. British Journal of Educational Studies, 42(4), 403. https://doi.org/10.2307/3121681
3. Fekkes, M., Pijpers, F. I., & Verloove-Vanhorick, S. (2004). Bullying behavior and associations with psychosomatic complaints and depression in victims. The Journal of Pediatrics, 144(1), 17–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2003.09.025
4. Mattison, P. (2021, March 19). April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Prevent Child Abuse America. https://preventchildabuse.org/latest-activity/april-is-child-abuse- prevention-month/
5. Wolke, D., & Lereya, S. T. (2015). Long-term effects of bullying. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 100(9), 879–885. https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2014-306667