“My four-year-old son is queer,” posted a distraught mother on social media. “He loves wearing dresses and dabbling with lipstick.” Her posts attracted all kinds of reactions from empathetic people and strict traditionalists. In fact, a majority of the responses reflected the society’s rigid conventions about gender-nonconforming children, which have made them an object of scorn and ridicule. It is such attitudes, which encourage bullying at later stages, such as during schooling and adolescence.
Talking about bullying, Randi Jayne Zuckerberg, former spokesperson for Facebook and sister of its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, once wrote in a blog on The Huffington Post that parents who post photographs online of their gender-nonconforming children are actually doing a disservice to them. Though many may share Randi’s opinion, there are also many who do not because they do not believe that there is a need to stand firm by their children in public.
Besides, they would be harsh on their kids hoping that punishment or shaming them would bring the necessary change. But sadly, they are mistaken. Therefore, to prevent parents from being the first bullies of their own children, there is a great need for bold parents to come out and speak openly about being supportive and empathetic towards the choices that their own gender-nonconforming children make.
Although Randi wrote in her post that “kids could just be kids and play with whatever they want, wear whatever they want, and choose whatever colors they want, without gender labels or stereotypes,” this would be possible only if parents stand up for their children in public and help shatter the label that is propagated by those who live in a bubble.
Bullying is worse than ill treatment
There are research that suggest bullying can trigger heightened levels of inflammation impaired responses to stress. Moreover, the impact of bullying is long-lasting, often resulting in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. According to a 2015 study, people bullied in their childhood were highly vulnerable to mental health problems during adulthood. The research was conducted by the University of Warwick psychology professor, Suzet Tanya Lereya, and published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Bullying usually involves some form of unsolicited behavior, such as use of profanity, slurs or humiliating language, physical or verbal abuse, name calling or any threatening acts, which would instill fear in children, make them feel useless, inferior and/or destroy their self-worth. Children who are subject to such acts of bullying are prone to develop a variety of mental health problems at a later stage in life. Moreover, frequent bullying can negatively affect a child’s cognitive abilities and pose numerous challenges in their schooling years leading to an aversion to attend school and a lack of concentration in studies.
Bullying leads to mental health disorders
Since August has been designated as the Don’t Be a Bully Month, it is imperative to know that bullying is no longer restricted to physical or verbal abuse by strangers. In fact, bullying could even happen at home. While on the one hand children with disability or gender-nonconforming children often become a soft target for strict, conventional parents and bullies in school, on the other hand even children with no disability are equally at risk of being bullied. As bullying often involves aggressive behavior, it could sometimes pave the way for different types of emotional and psychological problems.
Besides mental health disorders, over a period of time, bullying also pushes victims towards substance abuse and addiction. Nevertheless, a thorough mental health diagnosis is essential to guide and assist the victims of bullying to avoid worsening of their mental health.
If you or your loved one is struggling with any mental disorders, Sovereign Health can help. Call our 24/7 helpline to know about our state-of-the-art mental illness treatment centers spread across California and other states of the U.S. You can also chat online with one of our representatives, who would be happy to answer all your queries.