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Bullying Among Youth and Its Effects On Mental Health

Posted on: Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Bullying is a prevalent problem in our society, and some even consider it a national emergency. When 47% of Canadian parents report having at least one child who has been a victim of bullying, it makes sense to call this issue an emergency that needs attention. With International Youth Day this week, it is the perfect opportunity to talk about the prevailing matter of bullying among youth and the effect it can have on a victim’s mental health.


According to Alberta Human Services, “bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate, repeated, and hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm, and/or threat of aggression.” Bullying can be divided into four types: verbal, social, physical, and cyber bullying, with each of them being equally damaging.


The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has reported that Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries. One in four students from grades seven to nine in an Alberta study revealed that they had experienced cyberbullying. Additionally, a 2010 research project studying 33 junior high and high schools in Toronto reported that 49.5% of students surveyed had been bullied online.


Bullying has devastating consequences for youth, and one of them is mental health problems including eating disorders and self-harm. Bullying is also linked to several precursors to thoughts of suicide, including depression, low self-esteem, isolation, humiliation, or trauma. Additionally, research has shown that students who experience bullying are at an increased risk of developing sleep difficulties, poor school performance, anxiety, and depression. Child victims of bullying may even continue to suffer in adulthood and can typically become victims as adults. 


In order to eliminate the harmful effects of bullying and protect children and youth, it is important to prevent and intervene whenever we see bullying taking place. If a youth is being bullied or in emotional distress, consider telling the bully to stop or offering help to the victim. In addition, there are many resources available online to learn about bullying and how to help victims of bullying: Kids Help Phone, B-Free, Cyberbullying Special Feature, Centre for Suicide Prevention.


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