Bullying was once dismissed as part of coming of age or a phase that children would outgrow. Although recent generations have made great leaps towards recognizing the harmfulness of bullying both in person and online, a recent psychiatry study urges us to readdress the problem of bullying with more force.
The study, published early May in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that bullying can be damaging to the mental health of children later in life. As published in an article concerning the study on CNN, "Adolescents who are bullied by their peers actually suffer from worse long-term mental health effects than children who are maltreated by adults."
Dr. Dieter Wolke, part of the research team, explained that the classroom is a place children cannot escape from and urged for reform in how bullying is addressed by physicians, the government, and the public.
Dr. Wolke's concern about bullying parallels my concern about domestic violence. It is easy to envision classrooms as inescapable, but it is often harder to see visible and invisible bounds on domestic violence victims in damaging relationships. A classroom is a physical setting with walls that children must attend everyday, yet an abusive relationship can be a trap also. In my book Ending Domestic Violence Captive: A Guide to Economic Freedom, I explain that domestic captivity is a "condition of a person who has been deprived of power to terminate an abusive" that does not have to be physical.
Abusers achieve this captivity in gradual stages and scales, but once achieved the impact of it is similarly devastating. If bullied children are more likely to be depressed and suicidal later in life because of their entrapment in the abusive situation, than it is important to recognize that damaged from domestic violence is heightened when victims feel trapped also.
Dr. Wolke also urgently explains that bullying, as seen in the results of his groundbreaking study, is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by all facets of society including the government and our culture. The article published in CNN concerning the study elaborates on various successful programs and movements involved in ending the process of bullying in schools. The programs focus on changing stereotypes in children at a young age. Problems like bullying and domestic violence that have been so strongly rooted in American culture for generations need whole system attack methods like the programs the article lists.
Explaining to children at a young age what domestic violence is can aid in preventing the formation of abusive relationships. Early exposure to stigmas like bullying and domestic violence increases the likelihood of reducing those stereotypes for future generations. Dr. Wolke is correct when he explains that bullying is a serious problem that needs to be addressed quickly and efficiently in schooling systems nationwide, and I believe that domestic violence should be treated with the same urgency.