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Teen Health 411

School Bullying

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I bet you can all remember hearing your parents say that "kids will be kids," and when our peers were mean, we should "get over it," because mean people, teasing and bullying were just a part of life. Well, like everything else, our kids are experiencing a different reality and the old advice just is not appropriate any more.

A recent study by the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine reported that nine out of ten elementary students have been bullied by their peers. In fact, six in ten children surveyed also reported that they have participated in some form of bullying others, as well. Researchers asked 270 children in grades three through six in two schools in California and one school in Arizona to complete a 22-item survey about bullying. They survey asked questions about threatening and physical bullying as well as exclusion and spreading rumors.

Previous research has shown that without intervention, bullying behavior persists over time, and that children who are bullies are more likely to end up in prison then their non-bullying peers. The results of this new study suggest that both bullies and victims suffer higher levels of depression and other mental health problems, including anxiety and suicidal thoughts. The most effective interventions seem to be those that include changing the norms of a school to be intolerant of any bullying behavior, from principals to support staff, everyone must recognize and stop bullying, in any form. Parents can help by talking to their kids about what to do if they are bullied, or witness someone else being bullied.

Resources: The Bully Module; Kid Power

Photo Credit: berlinoa

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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