I know I’ve taken a break from my series because new studies in adolescent medicine keep come across my inbox that are interesting and sometimes scary. For example, a recent study found that teens ages 14-18 are a high risk for being bullied. This study looked at teens that were enrolled in weight loss camps. They found some very surprising findings.
Many of the teens were victims of bullying at school based on their weight. Though 90% were bullied by peers, 70% were bullied by friends, 42% by adults including teachers and sport coaches. Nearly 40% were bullied by parents and almost 30% by teachers. The most common type of bullying reported was verbal teasing, but about 60% reported cyberbullying (being bullied online).
It is never ok to bully another person, regardless of whether or not they are over or under weight. Sometimes the bullying may seem harmless, but to the person being teased, these negative comments day in and day out can take an emotional toll on a developing teen. Teens who are bullied are more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed. Negative comments from friends and family members may be said in efforts to help a teen change behaviors, but they may do more harm than good.
If your teen is being teased because of their weight, don’t ignore them if they bring it up. Many teens are embarrassed, may feel like they are ‘tattle tails’ or may think no one will listen if they talk about what is going on.
For more detailed information on bullying see our guest post by Dr. Henry Berman. Here are some tips for parents:
- Don’t ignore bullying. If your teen tells you they’re being teased listen to what’s going on and talk with the school.
- Monitor online social networks. Much negative talk is happening online. Your teen may not tell you about it until things get out of hand
- Don’t encourage physical retaliation or teasing the bully. Instead teach your teen to stand up for themselves and say ‘stop’ or ‘knock it off.’
- Make sure your teen has a trusted adult at school they can go to.