Written by: Joanna Bisgrove, MD – Family Medicine, Dean Clinic – Oregon
You have that feeling in your gut that something is wrong. That parental instinct that goes off that something is not right. Instead of being cheerful, your child has become moody and withdrawn. Or your child is afraid to go to school or jumps whenever the cell phone buzzes for a text or Facebook update. Yet, when you ask, your child insists everything is fine.
You ask yourself “Is my child sick? Should we go to the doctor?” So you do, but everything checks out. Your child insists it’s not drugs or depression. But what your child may not be telling you is something that occurs all too often and usually out of sight of an adult. Someone is bullying him or her.
Why are Children Bullied?
Bullying is something that happens every day. A child is bullied by others because of being perceived as different, weak or inferior. Children can be at risk for bullying simply because they wear different clothes, have a behavioral or physical issue or come from a family with less money. The common thread is that they are perceived somehow as weak and the bully (or bullies) is looking to gain power or control of them.
How Does Bullying Affect Kids?
Numerous studies show that children who are bullied are much more likely to develop depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, changes in eating patterns, physical complaints and decreased academic performance.
Many of these issues can persist into adulthood if not properly treated. Bullies themselves have a greater risk of abusing alcohol and drugs at a young age, engaging in early sexual activity, getting in trouble with the law and being abusive towards their partners and/or children as adults.
What Can I Do to Help?
The four most important things that parents, teachers and other adults who work with kids can do are:
1) Learn to recognize the signs of bullying.
2) Find out what is happening with the child without worsening the situation.
3) Take steps to prevent bullying.
4) Learn what to do when faced with an acute bullying situation.
With proper education, it is possible to make a positive impact on the lives of many children.
What is The Buddy Project?
Dean Clinic is teaming up with our Time for Kids partner WISC-TV3 to focus on a year- long anti-bullying campaign. Through "Time for Kids: The Buddy Project" we will provide families and community members the tools needed to help prevent and stop bullying. Over the next year, we will cover a wide range of topics, including:
- How to spot bullying
- How to help your child stand up to bullies
- Steps toward creating a bully free environment
- What to do when your child is the bully
- When your child witnesses bullying
- When boys/girls bully
Throughout our year watch for informative stories and events that will show kids why it’s better to be buddies than bullies.
Join Dean Clinic and WISC-TV3 as we issue an important call to action against bullying. Together, we can make a difference.
Select statistics taken from "Effects of Bullying" on stopbullying.gov.