Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bullying: Negative impact on a child's health may remain for years

The longer the period of time a child is bullied, the more severe and lasting the impact is on a child's health, according to a new study. The study is the first to examine the compounding effects of bullying from elementary school to high school. The team collected data for the study by following a group of 4,297 children and adolescents from fifth to tenth grade. Results showed that bullying at any age was associated with worse mental and physical health, increased depressive symptoms and lower self-worth. Participants who experienced chronic bullying also reported increased difficulties in physical activities like walking, running or participating in sports.

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COMMENT: Parents watch for signs from you kids and talk to them.  Signs of bullying may be as obvious as your kid asking to stay home from school but may be as subtle as a change in appetite. When you talk with your kid ask them questions that give them leeway to talk about bullying.  When you ask them directly "Are you being bullied?" they may tell you no.  But if you ask them different questions about their day leading up to bigger questions about bullying at school then they may be more likely to open up about what is really going on.  When a kid is being bullied at school they often feel like no one cares.  Let them know you care.  Spend the time it takes to let them know they have you on their side.

One great way to do this is to talk about it while playing a video game or doing some other activity with your child that they love to do.   When we were talking with a group of 5th graders they talked about some of their favorite times they spend with their Mom and one 5th grader said he loved folding laundry with his Mom because it was just the two of them and they talked with each other while they folded the warm clothes.  It was a surprising afternoon because I expected to hear more things like days at the amusement park or that day they went out to buy that new pair of tennis shoes.  But instead they all talked about those little things that they do with their Mom over and over that give them that time with her and that she gives them.

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