The gendered impact of bullying
bullying like Defined by The National Center Against Bullying is, “An ongoing and deliberate abuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behavior that is intended to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm.Not only does bullying manifest itself in different forms of abuse, but it also operates through individual and group interaction, in online and offline contexts.
Recent discoveries by the Teachers Foundation AC watch 42% of students in primary classes and 36% in secondary classes are victims of bullying. The quantum of the problem remains erroneous in statistics for adults, college campuses, and gender differences.
Gendered impact of bullying
More often than not, we get so used to bullying that in most cases it doesn’t seem like a big deal at all. As adults, we’almost forget‘ as a bad story, because we reject it. Researchers discovered, ‘that understanding gender roles and gender stereotypes plays a huge role in bullying because they directly influence the socialization of young children into gender roles.’
Bullying at its core is based on stereotypes, gender roles and discrimination. Societal norms concretize gender roles, as men are expected to be strong and independent, and women are socialized to be sensitive and understanding. For those who do not fit these constructs, bullying acts as a social discipliner.
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According to a new survey published in Glamor Magazine, “Girls were found to be bullied more often than boys: 30% of girls experienced it, compared to 22% of boys.” About 20% of those who were bullied as children were later diagnosed with a mental health condition that required medical treatment as adults.
The study shows that “These statistics compare to the 23% of children who were frequently bullied and sought help for a psychiatric problem before the age of 30.”
Although bullying comes in different forms, the most common form is verbal and physical bullying. Psychologically, bullying creates a sense of superioritywhere aggressive language and unwelcoming gestures are used to constrain the power to feel inferior.’
Priyadarshini*, an undergraduate student in English literature in Kathmandu, recalls: “I remember in second grade I was a lonely, introverted, shy kid with a few friends or sometimes no friends at all. One day during our lunch break, one of the children dropped yellowish food on the floor. The class turned out to be so mean that they made fun of it by saying “achhi garyo” (which translates to Nepali) meaning poo dump.” She says, “I felt embarrassed in front of the whole class when aaya didi took me to check under my skirt.” As an adult, the incident still hurts me today.“, She adds.
Being bullied can affect everything related to personality development, including how you see yourself and how you set goals in life. “Even after the Secondary Education Examination (SEE), when I thought about opting for English, I was told that I would not fit in because my English was not good enough‘, Samira*, a third-year journalism student at St. Xavier’s College, explains how that feeling made her ‘hates herself.‘
Often people dismiss the conversation about the impact of bullying because of the popular notion that you come out stronger from the experience. But research shows that chronic victimization and bullying early in life can impact self-confidence and cause survivors to internalize negative feelings for themselves.
Shrena*, a 21-year-old student and performer based in Kathmandu, says her skinny 10-year-old body has become the subject of mean jokes. She remembers, “My classmates and teachers said I looked like “Sugriv” (name call), known as the mythological monkey king of Mahabharata. They imitated the way I spoke, the way I walked, and just my appearance. It really left me with no gauge to measure how I felt at the time..”
Mental health and bullying
Bullying can have a lasting negative impact. It is an institutionalized social discipline that ensures that people cannot be themselves. Most of the time, victims do not speak out about bullying. Bullying is so normalized and dismissed that reporting it is not considered a viable option for fear of repercussions.
This secrecy around bullying can make it difficult to assess its seriousness. Survivors live in fear and anxiety for an extended period of time, which leads to low self-esteem and low confidence. Reporting on the experiences of survivors of bullying is important to make others aware that it is a form of violence and therefore needs to be talked about. It is therefore important to share this experience.
Read also : Why gender sensitivity needs to start at school
In order to protect survivors of bullying, especially girls and students of marginalized genders, schools should offer counseling and therapy sessions not only to educate on anti-bullying stances, but also to break down gender stereotypes and sexual.
Although bullying may not be resolved immediately, a constructive solution could be to conduct self-affirmation behavior support sessions that address gender gaps. It would help students to assess, heal, treat, and grow as confident people, not mired in self-doubt and low self-esteem.
*Names changed to protect privacy