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Are You Easily Offended?

04 March 2020 by

The world at large has been reacting to the new strand of Coronavirus, COVID-19, since late last year, and this has raised awareness on various political, social and medical issues.

Some useful reactions to the virus include more hygienic practices, both at home and out in the community, but one very harmful reaction is the stereotyping and stigmatisation of people associated with areas worst impacted by the epidemic. Let’s be clear, stigmatisation in relation to COVID-19 is the discriminatory treatment of others based on an uninformed or misinformed understanding of the virus’s impact and spread. With the wellbeing of students, staff and the College community at the centre of our response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that all come together in opposition to the stigmatisation and alienation of others. As a community, we respect the dignity of every human being; discrimination stands in contrast to this respect.

As stated by the World Health Organisation, with the COVID-19 being such a new disease, it is understandable that it’s spread is causing confusion, anxiety and fear, but the harm caused by stigmatisation can be more damaging.

Stigma can:

  • drive people to hide their illness to avoid discrimination
  • prevent people from seeking health care immediately
  • cause students distress and emotional trauma.

In our own community, we’ve seen students label their peers as having COVID-19 due to no more than their cultural heritage and, even more concerning, we’ve heard reports of parents refusing help at the Royal Children’s Hospital when offered from Asian doctors and nurses.

Behaviours such as these tend to come from fear and ignorance and cause more harm than good. Help us educate and inform, so that our community can be stronger in facing global challenges.

Useful links:

A Guide to preventing and addressing social stigma

WHO EPI WiN – Information on epidemic and pandemic preparedness

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