#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – #Mask #Bullying In #Schools Unlikely To End Any Time Soon, #Children’s #MentalHealth A Casualty | Opinion

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Frederic H. Decker

An advisory to #parents from Boston Children’s Hospital is titled: “The great #mask debate: how to deal with #bullying over face #masks in #school.” Then there is the 8-year-old #child in Missouri asking her #school district to mandate #masks after being bullied for wearing one by fellow classmates without #masks.

#Bullying in #schools over #mask wearing has been reported by local news media across the nation. #Students wearing #masks and those not apparently have been bullied and ridiculed, though it appears those wearing #masks more commonly targets. This bully, however, hasn’t been a salient topic in the national debate over face #masks in #schools.

One might expect that this bully would evaporate now that many states are ending statewide requirements to wear #masks in #schools, leaving the decision on mask mandates to local #school districts. The opposite may be the case, however.

Previous discussions over #masks at #school board meetings haven’t been encouraging, in any case, with occasions of threatening #bullying (by #adults) of board members seemingly more the rule than exception.

And, also, the #mask debate remains alive in states like Florida and Virginia where their respective Republican governors, Ron DeSantis and Glen Youngkin, have crusaded to keep local #school districts from even consideration of mandating wearing of face #masks.

#Bullying among #children does often reflect the world outside #school. Thus, Professor Sara Goldstein, an expert on child #bullying at Montclair State University, said bullying in #schools this #school year will partly reflect “#mask wearing controversies surrounding the #COVID-19 #pandemic.” She adds #school districts “should enact efforts to make #masks normalized and uncontroversial” to dampen bullying.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle 

Tall order, it seems, for #schools to make face #masks uncontroversial when the #adult world outside is still far from one without controversy.

As recent as last week,, Gov. DeSantis stoked the discord over #masks, adding fuel to the #bullying fire.

He was at an event at the University of South Florida to trumpet state funds for training #students in cybersecurity. And the #highschool #students behind him were wearing #masks, whereupon as he approached, he barked: “You do not have to wear those #masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this #COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”

One issue raised by those opposing #masks is that they harm #children developmentally or psychologically. Evidence showing such harm presently appears thin, however.

Whichever, the advisory in December 2021 by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, on children’s declining #mentalhealth during the #pandemic, with the rise in #depression, doesn’t mention face #masks once. One risk factor mentioned, nevertheless, is “disruptions in routine, such as not…going to #school in person.”

As in-person learning returns, a paradoxical question comes to mind: Is it wearing #masks per se or #mask #bullying which harms #children the most?

#School #bullying around #masks is unlikely to recede quietly, with the #mask debate finding new territory to infiltrate (that is, more #schools where wearing #masks is optional).

Some #parents want #masks in #schools to protect their #children, particularly from other #students not vaccinated. Others believe governmental agencies have been wrong about needing #masks in #schools and, anyway, can’t be trusted.

Among #children, especially the younger among them, level of trust in government is basically irrelevant though. Relevant is trust in people: family, #adults, friends, classmates.

Inability to trust others is known to underlie #depression and #anxiety. And bullying harms a child’s ability to trust others. Even #children who witness #bullying can become distrustful of others and experience #depression.

Trust is poisoned when #children mimic in their actions toward one another, as in #mask #bullying, the quarrel over #masks heard among #adults (including loud politicians) around them. Poisoned with the #mental well-being of #children (whether masked or maskless) a likely casualty.

Frederic H. Decker is a Maryland-based sociologist and a retired civil servant formerly at the National Center for Health Statistics, #CDC.

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