What is social stigma?
Social stigma refers to the disapproval or stereotyping of an individual or group based on perceived characteristics from society. In simple terms, it means labeling an individual or group of people with a common image in society, either in a discriminated or non-discriminated manner.
Social stigmas related to race, gender, and other identifiers can have a significant impact on students’ academic outcomes. These stigmas can affect children in drastic ways and have a long-lasting impact on not only their academic performance but also their individual lives. They can attack their mental well-being, confidence, and hinder their ability to reach their full potential, leading to demotivation and isolation.
Let’s shed some light on each kind of social stigma and its impact on individuals:
Race based stigmas
Stigma based on race can exclude individuals from their normal environment, leading to a lack of motivation and impacting academic achievements. For instance, children with different skin color may be treated differently and continuously told in front of their peers that they are not capable of doing anything. These comments can start to be believed by them, which ultimately hinders their academic growth.
Mental illness based stigmas
According to World economic forum‘s report, one in every five Indians has suffered from mental illness such as depression, anxiety, etc. These issues can begin from an early age within the community, family, and school. People with mental illness may get isolated or stigmatized by society, hindering their progress. The normal perspectives people hold towards mentally ill individuals can also stop them from promoting inclusiveness. The research chart by the WE forum indicates people’s attitudes toward mentally ill persons in different criteria.
This pointer highlights how the attitude and perspective of normal people can stigmatize and discourage students, thereby becoming a barrier to their academic growth. These stigmas need to be addressed by empathizing with the students and providing remedies such as sharing responsibility and treating them equally.
Gender based stigmas
Stigmas based on gender can deeply impact a student’s academic performance. For instance, if a teacher tells their students that girls are not good at math or science, girls may internalize this statement, lose interest in the subject, and avoid challenges related to mathematics and science. This stigma can ultimately affect their career prospects. Furthermore, transgender students often face discrimination and harassment from their peers and teachers, leading to feelings of shame, inequality, and guilt, which can also hinder their academic performance.
Stigmas based on socio economic status
The cost of study materials can be unaffordable for some parents, resulting in an inferiority complex among their children in the classroom. As a result, they may fall behind their peers. To address this issue, teachers need to create an inclusive environment and support these children by encouraging healthy peer engagement. Otherwise, the lack of resources will inevitably affect the academic performance of students.
Also Read: From A Farmerworker’s Son To Becoming A Proud Edupreneur
Stigmas based on sexual orientation and physical or mental abilities
Students who identify as LGBTQ+ are often discriminated against in school and the community, which can lead to feelings of isolation and vulnerability. Similarly, students with physical or mental disabilities are often ignored by teachers and even their families, preventing them from overcoming their challenges. Teachers must coordinate with the community and school to overcome these stigmas and prevent them from affecting students’ future lives.
How to reduce different stigmas in schools
To reduce stigmas in schools, awareness programs must be implemented among the community, schools, and parents. Teachers can learn about these stigmas by including a curriculum-based learning program that addresses the challenges that arise from stigmatization. A healthy and inclusive environment in schools, families, and the community can bring about positive change.
Social stigmas related to race, gender, and other identifiers can have a profound impact on a student’s academic outcomes. It is the responsibility of schools and communities to support stigmatized children and create an inclusive society where every individual has the opportunity to reach their potential. This can be achieved by finding the root causes of discrimination and treating stigmatized children without any prejudices. As a school authority, it is your responsibility to ensure that students do not feel discriminated against based on any factor. This discussion highlights the ways social stigmas affect children’s academic outcomes and why they must be addressed.