COVID Shaming: The New Face of Bullying in School

In the age of COVID-19, a new form of bullying is emerging, as children return to schools for in-person classes. Known as ‘COVID shaming,’ this harmful phenomenon is creating an environment of unease and conflict between students. At its core, COVID shaming is the act of ridiculing or discriminating against someone based on their perceived compliance or non-compliance with coronavirus safety measures – and the consequences can be serious.

The Roots of COVID Shaming

The ongoing pandemic has amplified societies’ need for collective responsibility; adhering to guidelines for masking, sanitizing, and social distancing has become a critical part of daily life. However, the varying opinions on these measures have created an environment ripe for tension and even hostility. Among children and teenagers, these disagreements can manifest into bullying behavior.

Forms of COVID Shaming

COVID shaming can take many forms in the school setting. It might involve children mocking their peers for wearing masks or promoting social distancing. Alternatively, some students may be targeted because they contracted the virus or have a family member who did.

Essentially, any behavior that discriminates against students based on their perception of roles in the pandemic can be categorized as COVID shaming. This stigma attached to individuals deemed ‘non-compliant’ can have severe effects on mental health and social relationships.

Impact on Mental Health

Children subjected to bullying are at increased risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. With COVID shaming, victims may feel isolated from their friends and society while trying to adhere to preventative measures to ensure their safety. The shunning from friends, classmates or even teachers can breed more than just fear; it fosters mistrust and discord within the school community.

What Can Be Done?

Educators, parents, and community members must work together to raise awareness about this type of bullying and its profound impact. Schools should hold discussions and seminars to help students understand the importance of empathy while addressing misconceptions and fears about the virus.

It is essential to provide a supportive environment for children who have experienced COVID shaming. For this reason, counseling services should be offered to those who feel targeted or marginalized based on safety measures they choose to follow.

Parents should actively engage with their children about COVID-19 and help address any misconceptions or fears. They should explain the importance of masking, social distancing, and other safety measures while fostering respect for others in society. Encouraging open communication will create trust and understanding between family members.


COVID shaming is an unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic that is contributing to a toxic learning environment for many students. To combat this new form of bullying, it is crucial to cultivate awareness, empathy, and respect for one another’s decisions regarding safety measures. In doing so, we can work together to create a school environment where every child feels supported and safe during these uncertain times.

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