Myth: Bullying does not cause any serious harm.
Fact: Bullying is associated with a range of physical and mental health problems, as well as suicide, educational problems, antisocial problems, and relationship problems.
Victimized children are more likely to report headaches and stomach aches than non-victimized children. Children who both bully and are victimized may be at greatest risk for physical health problems. Victimized children are more likely to report anxiety and depressive symptoms than children uninvolved in bullying . Of greatest concern is the fact that psychiatric problems associated with involvement in bullying tend to persist into later life . A high risk of suicidal ideation (having thoughts of suicide) is found among children who are bullied, who bully others, and who are involved in both roles. Both victimized children and children who bully are at risk for poor school functioning, in terms of poor attitudes towards school, low grades, and absenteeism. 20-25% of frequently victimized children report bullying as the reason for missing school.
Youth who bully others are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, and are at risk for later criminality. For example, 60% of boys who bully others in elementary school had criminal records by age 24.
Myth: Canadians are too nice to bully.
Fact: On the recent World Health Organization (WHO) Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HSBC) survey, Canada ranked a dismal 26th and 27th out of 35 countries on measures of bullying and victimization, respectively. Moreover, our position on the international stage has slipped relative to other countries. On the 1993/1994 survey, Canadas ranking on the prevalence of bullying and victimization was relatively higher than in the 2001/2002 survey; however, the prevalence of bullying and victimization among Canadian students has remained relatively stable. The drop in Canadas relative ranking in spite of stable rates, suggests that other countries have been preventing bullying problems more effectively than Canada. The high proportions of Canadian students who report bullying or being bullied confirm that this represents an important social problem for Canada. One of the reasons that Canada is ranked so poorly compared to other countries is our lack of a national campaign to address bullying problems.
Do you know of any other myths about bullying that should be exposed? Please comment so that we can help everyone understand the truth about bullying. Thank you for caring.
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