According to the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health (ODUHS) survey conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), girls who are bullied contemplate suicide more often than girls who are not bullied. Bullying is not normal behaviour; instead it is a form of violence that is established to set up a power imbalance, perhaps to gain status among peers.
The survey included thousands of students across Ontario, in grades seven to twelve and found that 21 per cent of girls were being bullied and also thought about suicide. In actual numbers, that translates into approximately 31,800 girls.
That startling figure, according CAMH, is “Double the percentage seen among girls who were not bullied at school.”
CAMH does not directly state that bullying causes suicidal thoughts, however Dr. David Wolfe, the Senior Scientist at CAMH, notes that bullying is “Definitely a risk factor.”
The biannual survey ranked Canada in the middle of 35 countries for bullying. and revealed that nearly one-third of the students report being bullied, while another third are the aggressors. This can be seen as a public health issue but CAMH notes that the rise in bullying can be reversed.
Parents can inquire about their child’s safety at school, how their friends are faring, and can promote healthy non-abusive relationships at home by modeling respect for each other. CAMH has a school-based program called the Fourth R project that teaches kids to make better choices and episodes of bullying can become teachable moments with valuable lessons.
To read the online article in Global Toronto, you can go to www.globaltoronto.com.
To find out more about the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, go to the CAMH website.