Many children are bullied for their sexuality, and boys are twice as lucky as girls, according to a new study among Brazilian teens.
Researchers from the Brazilian National Cancer Institute studied data on health surveys submitted by 101,646 students in the country between the ages of 13 and 15.
They were asked about their sleeping habits, whether they had experienced bullying and the reason for the bullying – including their alleged sexual orientation.
Students were not asked if they were LGBTQ + as part of the study, so the 0.8 percent bullied due to sexual orientation affects all students.
The team says parental support and help from friends and family were “a protective factor” and could help mitigate the effects of bullying.
Students were not asked if they were LGBTQ + as part of the study, so the 0.8 percent bullied due to sexual orientation affects all students. Stock Image
Boys experienced this type of victimization twice as much as girls, according to the researchers, with 1.1 percent of boys and 0.6 percent of girls suffering.
Bullying between students is found in most schools and it seems to happen regardless of a student’s social, cultural and economic characteristics.
Another study of school children in over 40 countries found that up to 45.2 percent of boys were somehow bullied and up to 35.8 percent of girls suffered.
This new study was designed to investigate what bullying was among teenagers, especially bullying on sexual orientation, among teens in Brazil.
The team examined survey data entered by students in their ninth year of education – ages 13-15 – to find bullying.
They cannot provide information on the percentage of LGBTQ + students who bully, as no data has been collected on the sexual orientation of the students.
Instead, it emphasizes the likelihood of someone experiencing some degree of bullying as a result of their perceived sexual orientation.
Until this study, according to the research team, there was no estimate of the prevalence of bullying on sexual orientation in schools in Brazil.
Researchers found that of the more than 100,000 students who completed the survey on their phones, 1.1 percent of the boys and 0.6 percent of the girls reported being bullied for their sexual orientation in the past month.
Although the total number is low, the researchers say the impact is significant.
“As evidenced by a growing body of research, school bullying is often motivated by bias or prejudice, and the negative consequences of such bullying seem to be worse than others,” they wrote.
Previous research found that boys who were bullied in high school by being called gay had more mental health problems and had a more negative attitude toward the school climate compared to boys who were bullied for other reasons.
A previous study of 200,000 students around the world found that the number of bad grades, substance abuse and depression was higher when someone was bullied ‘because you are gay or lesbian’ or someone thought they were.
The Brazilian team says that sexual orientation alone does not necessarily cause signs of mental health problems, but rather experiences victimization.
The National Survey of School Health, used for this study, is an ongoing school study conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
It is designed to monitor the health of children and young people in the ninth grade of public and private schools.
Variables related to mental health were collected for the first time in 2015, including information on feelings of loneliness, difficulty sleeping and friendship.
This information was used by the current study to understand whether sexual orientation bullying has a significant impact on students’ mental health and wellbeing.
“The hypothesis was that victimization by sexual orientation bullying is associated with reporting higher levels of loneliness and sleep problems in Brazilian high school students,” the authors wrote.
They also wanted to investigate to what extent sexual orientation bullying alone affected the children’s loneliness and sleeping habits.
The last sample included 101,646 students between the ages of 13 and 15 – 48.7 percent were male and 51.3 percent were female.
The bullying variable was judged by the question, “How many times in the past 30 days have some of your classmates belittled, mocked, scorned, or intimidated you to the point where you felt hurt, bothered, annoyed, insulted, or humiliated?”
According to the researchers, boys experienced twice as many victims as girls: 1.1 percent of the boys and 0.6 percent of the girls said they suffered. Stock Image
They were also asked what caused the bullying – including the option ‘because of my sexual orientation’.
If the questions had been more diverse, the rates may have been comparable to other countries, the researchers said.
Overall, 0.8 percent of the 101,646 students in the sample reported experiencing bullying based on sexual orientation by classmates.
The team said this was relatively low compared to findings from other countries – likely due to a survey question error asking them to choose just one option that described the cause of bullying.
When you break down the numbers further, 1.1 percent of boys and 0.6 percent of girls reported being bullied due to their sexual orientation by classmates.
Teens with more than three close friends were less likely to be bullied for their sexual orientation – down to 0.7 percent, but rose to 1.3 percent if they had no or close friends.
The numbers increased slightly when they removed someone from the dataset who had never experienced bullying, bringing the number of students down to 44,495.
Of those 1.9 percent, bullying reported the result of their sexual orientation – rising to 2.6 percent for boys and 1.3 percent for girls.
“The results show that sexual orientation bullying is a predictor of signs of mental health problems, as observed in previous longitudinal studies,” they wrote.
“Previous research has already shown that sexual orientation bullying is the most serious bullying practice in school, because it is usually discredited more than bullying for other reasons.”
Authors say that work is needed to promote tolerance of sexual diversity in Brazilian schools to ‘deconstruct stereotypes that support prejudice against those who do not conform to socially and culturally imposed heteronormativity patterns.’
A major limitation of this study is that it did not really take into account the sexual orientation of the students – only the prevalence of bullying based on orientation.
So it is impossible to give a figure that indicates the percentage of LGBTQ + students who have been subject to bullying – just a general percentage of all students.
Thus, the results should not be interpreted solely for LGBTQ + students, as bullying based on sexual orientation is also considered experienced among heterosexual youth, the team wrote.
The findings are published in the Jornal de Pediatria.
CHILDREN’S STUFF IS CONNECTED WITH LOTS OF NEGATIVE MENTAL HEALTH RESULTS
Bullying can affect anyone; those who are bullied, those who are bullied and those who witness bullying.
Bullying has been linked to many negative outcomes, including effects on mental health, substance use, and suicide.
It’s important to talk to children to determine if bullying or anything else is a problem.
Children who are bullied
Children who are bullied can experience negative physical, school and mental health problems.
Children who are bullied are more likely to:
Depression and anxiety, more feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
These problems can persist into adulthood.
Decreased academic performance – GPA and standardized test scores – and school participation.
They miss, skip or quit school earlier.
A very small number of bullied children can retaliate through extremely violent measures.
In 12 out of 15 school shootings in the 1990s, the photographers had a history of being bullied.
Children who bully others
Children who bully others can also show violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood.
Children who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse of alcohol and other drugs during adolescence and as adults
- Battle, destroy property and quit school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Do adults like criminal convictions and traffic quotes
- As adults, be offensive to their romantic partners, husbands, or children
Children who witness bullying are more likely to:
- Use more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs
- Increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Missing or skipping school
The relationship between bullying and suicide
Media reports often associate bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have suicidal thoughts or behavior.
although cchildren being bullied runs the risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause.
Many problems contribute to the risk of suicide, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history.
In addition, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including black and ethnic minorities, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
This risk can be further increased when it does cchildren are not supported by parents, peers and schools.
Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.