Weekend: Mental Health Moment

By LINDA BRANWELL
EDITOR’S NOTE: First of two parts.
As we begin a new school year, some students are excited to get back into a routine, while others have this sense of dread. One reason why some kids do not like school could be because they are bullied.
The kids who are targeted for bullying are viewed as being different. This might mean they are taking special education classes, living in the wrong neighborhood, are overweight or underweight or have some other characteristics that makes them stand out.
There are five categories of bullying: physical bullying, verbal bullying, cyber bullying, social aggression and relational aggression.
With cyber bullying, the target usually is aware of who is doing the bullying. But, in other instances, the bully uses another person’s username, so the target has no idea who is behind it.
More disturbing, cyber bullying can go on 24/7. For example, an incident could occur at school, and by the end of the day, the peers of the person being bullied are texting about it or posting something on Facebook.
In the past, children were able to escape the bullying by leaving the school environment and finding their homes as a safe place to be. That does not happen with cyber bullying.
Social aggression is a kind of bullying that typically involves one ringleader, a “social heavyweight,” who influences a circle of friends to gang up on a target.
Sadly, the students leading the bullying gain power, social control and status, while the students who are being bullied feel that everyone hates them.
Social aggression is more subtle. Examples include rumors, gossip and social exclusion, all of which lead to peer rejection.
Relational aggression is similar to social aggression, but it occurs between individuals, usually when one friend turns on another friend because they have felt wronged by him/her. It includes behaviors that are intended to harm a student’s sense of belonging or connection with his/her peers.
This form of bullying is more likely among girls. They become angry and mean in a subtle way that has the appearance of being nice.
Boys are also likely to use relational aggression. They may steal items from the target person or hurl their cell phone down the hallway.
Branwell, a licensed independent social worker with a specialization in chemical dependency, is owner of Espero Wellness & Counseling Center Ltd., Findlay. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.

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