Health Talk

The NUS Health Blog for Undergraduate Articles

Month: April 2019

Bullying is a Serious Public Health Problem


Bullying has been in existence since time immemorial. It has been perceived as a rite of passage, and some parents can claim to have been subjected to the same but still unaffected. However, it has morphed into newer forms such as cyberbullying. Many acts of bullying ended tragically, and therefore, bullying is a serious public health problem that warrants the use of appropriate measures to combat it.

Some Facts About Bullying

  • Cyberbullying is rampant too, plus the use of apps results in the anonymity of those involved. Also, access to technology is higher, so, perpetrating cyberbullying is easier.
  • Some subgroups within a school are more vulnerable to bullying; for example, the disabled, obese, and those in different or minority ethnic group.
  • Bullying is a medical syndrome since the perpetrators as well as their targets usually suffer from headaches, sleep deprivation and stomachaches. They can also get depression and anxiety. These symptoms appear in clusters (occur simultaneously) instead of one at a time.
  • This bullying is a serious public health problem that parents, teachers and other stakeholders are fighting against after several negative consequences such as suicides.
  • Bullying reporting is not common since many children are wary of consequences, so it is hard to get an accurate number of incidents.
  • Different scenarios of violence against peers have been witnessed in the past. Read bullying essays examples to know more.

More Facts from Research

Research from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows that it is important to raise children who aren’t bullies. Frederick Rivara from the committee said, “While there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice”. It also found that zero tolerance policies are ineffective since it leads to underreporting of these incidents; it doesn’t provide the perpetrators with replacement behaviours of skilled training. The number of children affected by bullying is hard to quantify, but this report estimates it at between 18 and 31 percent of them; but it is higher for the disabled, obese and the LGBT. However, cyberbullying affects a lower percentage of children (about 7 to 15 percent).

Dr. Young-Shin Kim led a Yale study which showed that bullied children contemplated suicide more than those who didn’t experience such harassment. A different study showed that the targeted students had a high chance of carrying weapons because of increased risk factors.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying is a serious public health problem with many effects such as the following:

  • It affects children physically, mentally, socially and academically. Perpetrators are also likely to be negatively affected by being depressed, engaging in risky activities and contemplating or attempting suicide.
  • Bullying can extend into adulthood as some will be abusive to their family members or involved in criminal activities as adults. The victim can be lonely, vulnerable and prone to emotional health problems.
  • Victims have their future at risk because of poor academic performance together with ailments that will be evident even in adulthood.
  • It also affects the stress response system of those involved. This impairs self-regulation of emotions and cognitive functions.

How to Curb Bullying

Various stakeholders have joined the fight against bullying by suggesting or implementing solutions such as:

  • Creating Rules

Various rules can be used to combat bullying. Schools can establish them to prevent the harassment, involve families and create a safe learning environment. In the United States, every state has anti-bullying legislation, but they differ from state to state.

  • Identifying Incidents

Schools can play a great role in identifying these incidents. Sometimes, victims are identified when it is too late; when some have ended their lives, performing poorly and other impacts. Families and community members can play a role too. Training that gears towards the same definitions can help all stakeholders to identify bullying incidents.

  • Reporting

Reporting an act of bullying to relevant authorities like a school is imperative. Clear procedures can be established to ensure students can report with anonymity, involving peer counsellors and guiding kids on reporting the cases.

  • Using Health Records

Identifying it in standards health screening can be effective; doctors can participate in recognising victims.

  • Psychological Help

Apart from treating the physical, treating the psychological symptoms is important since it will decrease the risks of self-harm and substance abuse. Schools can identify vulnerable students so as to teach them how to refuse provocation. They can have a caring relationship with them, involve their parents and provide psychological services.

  • Creating Awareness

Public awareness of bullying will lead to a more respectful environment. Creating awareness is imperative. This should be on the consequences of bullying, mostly evidenced by data that indicates rising cases of suicides from victims, and social determinants of bullying.

  • Proper Response

The proper response from victims and witnesses is important. They can respond with resilience if they learn the core skills that include establishing bully-free norms.

  • Favourable School Cultures

School cultures can be reviewed to reduce bullying. Schools should create a secure, safe and respectful environments for all kids. Since it is easy for children to learn about violence and bullying before inflicting others, educational policymakers can work on creating school cultures that are favourable for all children.

  • Involve Social Media Companies

Since some social media cultures promote bullying, social media companies can participate in formulating policies that will result in identifying and curbing cyberbullying.

Extensive studies are important to ensure implementation of programmes that are based on evidence. These programmes should aim at combating bullying by helping various victims to deal with it along with helping the perpetrators to end their behaviour.

Promoting diversity in schools will also curb it. But to reduce bullying, schools can involve all students; teachers and counsellors can then provide strategies that can help in curbing it. This includes teaching youths social-emotional skills and tolerance. Families can help in curbing this vice by enhancing coping skills in children as well as encouraging them to report bullying incidents.

Bullying is a serious public health problem that has resulted in short and long term effects on victims and also the perpetrators. Concerted efforts can work to the benefit of all those involved, but more emphasis should be on preventive measures. Creating awareness will help in identifying incidents, teaching children on coping strategies, involving other stakeholders, and creating a favourable environment for everyone.

The Relationship Between Health and Addiction


The topic of health is one that seems to be consistently finding its way into the media, into everyday conversations, into important discussions behind closed doors, and even in the whispers of stigma-saturated conversations. This is the reality; that amongst the important conversations stems the judgement and stigma that has stifled these important conversations since they began. And one topic of conversation around health that attracts the most ongoing stigma is addiction.

Addiction is something that has always been viewed with the most intense of viewpoints, not unlike the approach that everyone takes. People are either wholeheartedly against even discussing addiction, while others are so open to it that it becomes all-encompassing. Interestingly, this is also the approach that people tend to have when they are faced with addiction themselves. Before anything else, it is first and foremost important to understand that addiction is a different experience for everyone, and judgement gets us nowhere.

Humanity as a curious species

As humans, we are a naturally curious species. While in many regards, this is nothing but a positive, there are instances where our curiosities can ultimately become our downfall. Addiction is a perfect example of this. Curiosity is what drives us and ultimately makes us make the jump to try new things, and unfortunately for us not all those things are good for us. Substances like heroin and ice, or alcohol, are just some examples of addictive substances that can prove to be not only unhealthy, but even fatal.

Understanding the whole issue

Addiction is treated as weakness and a flaw in character in many instances, but the reality of addiction is that it is a disease, a health issue that can affect anyone at any time. Nobody is immune to its reaches, and so it becomes detrimental when somebody we know, or ourselves, becomes entangled in addiction, that the person in question feels supported, rather than judged. Nothing with quell a person’s desire to get help quicker and more acutely than everyone around them treating them like their addiction is their problem, and nobody else’s.

Having the right approach

Of course, addiction is the responsibility of the individual who is suffering with it, but more than that addiction presents itself in effected individuals as a manifestation of the physical, as well as the internal. Addiction is so hard to break away from when you are the one suffering with its reaches, and so understanding that it is not as simple as “just stopping” is the first step towards obtaining the right approach.

Not unlike considering courses for cardiac life support when you know someone with a heart condition, making it your business to consider ways of being a pillar of support for someone you know who is facing an addiction of some kind. People who suffer with addiction often feel isolated and alone, and having a support network that they know they can rely on, even (and especially) during the toughest of times can and does make all the difference in the world. Actively chose to be part of the solution, and not the problem.

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