Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health, Youth

Bullying and Mental Health

Teen bullying: why does it sometimes feel as if nothing is being done? Why are there so many teens being teased by their peers? Have things changed so much since I was in high school that the youth of today is under so much more stress, anxiety, and emotional pain? The youth of today is experiencing life much differently than a generation ago. Technology, social media, economics, family dynamics (more divorced, separated or blended families) and the educational demands (standardized testing, academic achievements) of schools today seem to place a huge load on kids. At the same time, this fast paced life of technology is occurring, kids and teenagers have access to an online world where individuals post every detail about their lives. Facebook, cell phones/texting have taken over the typical face to face interactions. Much easier to tease, make fun of, and bully an individual online than in person. More needs to be done both by parents/families, communities and schools re:  appropriate online postings for Facebook along with more support offered to deal with the fallout of bullying and potential mental health symptoms.

The Globe and Mail had an article on Mental Health and Bullying. It focuses on a school district in Eastern Ontario-Upper Canada School District- implementing a solution: Peer Mentoring which links grade 12 students who are trained to mentor every incoming grade 9 student. Besides mentoring, the initiative is an anti-bullying program called Link Crew founded by the U.S. Boomerang Project.

“The Boomerang Project is a company dedicated to both educators and students; our goal is to help create schools that not only teach students, but reach them as well. Whether it be through high school or middle school orientation and transition programs, student to student mentoring programs, an incredible teacher training, a powerful in-service, a dynamic speaker, or providing useful resources. Link Crew is a high school orientation and transition program that increases freshman success and Link Crew schools report having greater student connection, increased extracurricular participation, fewer discipline issues and improved academic performance.”

Peer to peer mentoring makes sense. Who does a 9th grader want to talk to about potential bullying and emotional upsets: an adult or a fellow student who may have gone through something similar? This does not take away the importance of a student speaking to the appropriate adult or professional if the needs go beyond what a peer can assist with.

Social and emotional needs must be addressed. Considering that students spend 5 days a week in the educational environment for at least 6 hours a day-it makes sense that these needs are addressed at school and can even become part of the curriculum.

I hope to see more school districts implement anti-bullying and peer-to-peer mentoring programs. What are you thoughts?

By: Victoria Brewster, MSW

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3 thoughts on “Bullying and Mental Health”

  1. Bullying has been a problem for years, but with the advent of social media and the internet it has taken on a wider audience and a more immediate spreading of the bullying.

    On the positive side, I have heard of several programs like you describe. It’s good to see several young people lining up on the anti-bullying side and being visible.

    1. Kelly,
      I agree with you! We need more youth to step up and say bullying is not ok. Online bullying is the new style and has led a few (because of the pervasive, intruding comments, sharing of photos, ability to text at any hour to many) teenagers to commit suicide and this is extremely sad and unacceptable to me.

      More programs like the one described in the article are needed and more schools need to implement anti-bullying programs, mentoring programs between older and younger students and there needs to be a no tolerance policy in schools re: bullying. -Vikki

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