By Tafadzwa Mazonde

(St Ignatius High School)

In all shapes and sizes, bullying is delivered to the doorsteps of over 3.2 million students annually. The figure rises yearly posing a dangerous threat to the mental health of the youth. People possess a misconception that it is all about physical intimidation. Bullying exists in numerous forms, all equally detrimental to the mental well-being of the young.

The most common kind of bullying is physical bullying. It is whereby a bully utilizes physical intimidation like slapping to acquire power over their target. Victims suffer appalling cases of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Depression is a mental health disorder. It is a persistent feeling of sadness which is bad for mental well-being. Anxiety is a feeling of unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can lead to paranoia and anti-social behavior also causing isolation and loneliness. Low self-esteem is also detrimental to mental health. The feeling of self-doubt can lead to long term anger resulting in bullying, underlining how big of a menace it is to mental health of the youth.

Next there is verbal bullying. This is when bullies use words, statements and name-calling to gain power over their target. Verbal bullies utilize relentless comments to intentionally hurt another person. What makes verbal bullying so adverse is that perpetrators choose targets according to how they look and act causing victims to develop a feeling of self-resentment and low self-esteem. Depression and suicidal thoughts which are also effects of this breed of bullying. Also making verbal bullying quite destructive to mental health, is parental advise to victims which is usually to “just ignore it” of course solving nothing. The emotional scars victims of verbal bullying attain from the experience can persist into adulthood causing long-term damage to the mental health of the victim. Also, similar but slightly different to verbal bullying is relational aggression. This is an insidious kind of bullying whereby the bully attempts to intentionally sabotage another’s social being by spreading rumors’ and breaking confidences.

We also have cyberbullying. This is when an individual utilizes the internet or any form of technology to harass, threaten or embarrass another person. Examples include posting offensive pictures, making threats online, and sending offensive emails. Cyberbullying has become quite common nowadays because of the
development of new technologies. The consequences of cyberbullying are significant because cyberbullies have access to terrorize their target anywhere at any time. The trauma that comes with cyberbullying can be devastating to mental health. Victims are angrier and develop anti-social behavior. Isolation is also a common effect that comes with cyber bullying which can result in poor social life.
Finally, prejudicial bullying. This is mistreatment of an individual based on race or religion. Now this, like verbal bullying, can lead to victims developing feelings of self-resentment and hate.
The common denominators on the effects of bullying are depression and low self-esteem which can both limit one’s capabilities in many areas. Therefore, bullying is one of the prime threats to mental health and it must be annihilated.

Alfred Sibanda
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