Mental Health and Bullying

Our mental health is strongly affected by how we communicate with others. Bullying and offensive behaviour is therefore a major social problem. It can lead to mental distress and disorders that young people might take further into their adulthood.

​Norway's first Bullying Ombudsman defines bullying as follows:

Bullying is when a person repeatedly and over time is exposed to negative actions. This can involve harassment, repeated physical harm, social exclusion, hurtful teasing, etc. Typically the victim is unable to defend themselves.

Bullying Ombudsman, Bodil Jenssen Houg in Buskerud.
 

The VIP Programme's “Resource Booklet for Teachers”

In the VIP Programme's “Resource Booklet for Teachers”, bullying and offensive behaviour is a separate topic with related tips on how to educate the students about it.

You can order the booklet from our page about Booklets for Students, Teachers, and Health Professionals

Below is additional information that is not included into the booklet:

Offensive Behaviour

According to the Education Act, the school is obliged to prevent and stop offensive behaviour. The school must intervene before the offence repeats itself and forms a destructive, traumatizing pattern.

Offence is an effective term because because it refers to having an unpleasant, painful, or sad experience. An offence is the experience of having your dignity and integrity threatened or crushed, regardless of:

  • who has or has not performed the action.
  • what actions or absence of actions were performed.
  • the intentions of the offender or offenders

In other words, it is important how the person who is bullied, and not the bully, experiences the action.
   

Bullying Can Damage Mental Health

In the VG article, Child Ombudsman Anne Lindboe says that we have long underestimated the harmful effect of bullying:

Bullying damages mental health, schooling, and the entire childhood of those who are exposed to it,” she says.

You can read the entire article about bullying in VG here. — Please note that the article is in norwegian

The Child Ombudsman further points out that mental health is a major problem area for young people today. She believes we cannot grade bullying. Her opinion is that the bullying that takes place in silence can break down someone’s mental health just as much as the physical and visible bullying, she says to VG.

The school's main responsibility is to ensure that the students are comfortable at school. However, bullying is not only a school problem but also a social problem. The school has a legal responsibility, but we are the ones who have a moral responsibility. We must all contribute to creating environments where nobody exposes others to offensive behaviour that damages and breaks people down.

The film “Stand Up!” focuses on bullying and demonstrates the power that lies in the majority and the choices they make. It can be used in connection with the VIP Programme implementation.

You can click here to watch the the film “Stand Up!” on YouTube


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