sadteenA new study in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) published an interesting study last week. The study looked at 4,000 kids, interviewed them in 5th, 7th, then 10th grade to see how bullying might affect them. What they found was not surprising to me. Kids who are currently being bullied or who have been bullied in the past and are still being bullied had poorer health outcomes.

We’ve blogged about bullying before, but this study (which looked at a large group of kids) shows new evidence that the effects of bullying can have long lasting effects. Those kids who were bullied in the past and present had the lowest health scores, but those being bullied presently also had health that suffered. Examples of poor health included depression symptoms and difficulties with walking, running, or playing sports.

Unfortunately, we don’t know yet how bullying can affect teens as they become adults and what the consequences may result from bullying in childhood as these kids become middle aged individuals. We know that depression can affect multiple aspects of life including the ability to participate in school/education and hobbies. If a person doesn’t attend school or has poor grades, that closes the door to opportunities like college and other employment.

What can a parent do to prevent or stop bullying?

  1. Do listen to your teen. If they tell you they’re being teased, don’t respond that it’s ‘nothing’ or minimize it.
  2. Do encourage your teen to have friends who are not engaging in teasing/bullying.
  3. Do encourage your teen to speak up if they witness bullying. If spectators say ‘cut it out’ or ‘knock it off’ or respond in a way that is NOT accepting of bullying, the perpetrator is more likely to stop
  4. Do speak to the school. In WA state, schools must have anti-harassment policies and procedures in place. Most bullying is likely un-witnessed by adults. If the behavior is disruptive to the class (i.e. a student can’t focus on work because of bullying or is missing school because of it) the school must intervene.
  5. Don’t encourage retaliation or physical altercation

Do readers have other tips for the prevention of bullying?