http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/08/bullying.health.effects/index.html?hpt=C2 The article tells a story of a 57 year old man who was bullied since the 5th grade and who now feels his current anger and fear resulted from those childhood events, minimizing his interactions with others. Bullying is “a repeated, harmful, aggressive act in a situation where there is an imbalance of power." The article remarks that victims of bullying may display symptoms of psychological or physical distress such as becoming withdrawn, depressed, anxious, insomnia and contemplate suicide. In addition, the article states that a history of bullying can affect how adults feel about themselves and their ability to form relationships. Bullying is a widespread problem with up to 35% of girls and 45% of boys are affected by bullying across different countries (1). Children with special needs such as autism, attention deficient disorder or learning disabilities are at higher risk for bullying (2). Recent media news reports bullying victims committing suicide.
Professional views regarding bullying have changed recently due to increased research and public awareness. The article uses anecdotes from adults bullied as children and their personal explanations of their current behavioral and emotional challenges. This approach may diminish authenticity, as it’s not scientifically valid. Still, their perspectives are consistent with findings from well-designed research. As physicians we can help by asking questions during well child visits about school, friends, and lunchtime activities, or consider psychosocial causes to unexplained headaches and stomachaches. Management is multi-pronged, but may involve educators, parents, the child, peers and ourselves. Mental health clinicians may also be considered. Strategies to pre-empt or disrupt bullying are not obvious to victims or parents, and well-intended recommendations can backfire. We as clinicians can help direct families to good-quality, evidence-based resources, as educate ourselves, on proven approaches. Consider the following:
RESOURCES ON BULLYING
Stop Bullying NowProgram for kids and parents from the US Department of Health and Human Services www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/
School wide program to stop bullyingwww.clemson.edu/olweus/
Find Youth Infohttp://www.findyouthinfo.gov/youthtopics.shtmlFederal program whose goal is positive, healthy outcomes for youth
1. Craig W et al. Bullying; Victimization; Prevalence rates; Country comparison. (2009) International Journal of Public Health. 54 (Supplement 2) 216-224.
2. Twyman K et al. Bullying and Ostracism Experiences in Children with Special Health Care Needs (2010) Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 31(1):1-8
3 .Glew GM et al. Bullying, psychosocial adjustment, and academic performance in elementary school. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1026-1031. UWA Library Holdings 4. Olweus D and Limber SP. Bullying in School: Evaluation and Dissemination of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program Bullying and Ostracism Experiences in Children With Special Health Care Needs. (2010) American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 80(1):124-134 5. Kumpulainen K. Psychiatric conditions associatied with bullying. (2008) Int J Adolesc Med Health. 20(2):121-32. (Abstract only)
And that’s today’s Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: IN THE NEWS!