It’s a busy day at work. Your phone rings, and the principal at your child’s school tells you your child is bullying other students. What do you do?
Popular media tends to focus just on the children who are bullied. So, what about the children who are bullies? According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 30 percent of young people admit to bullying others. Research also shows that bullies are at greater risk for delinquent behavior and may experience adverse physical and mental health consequences including poor academic achievement, depressive symptoms and more.
Here are some tips to help parents start the conversation, and stop the bullying:
We recently shared a blog written by Children’s patient Kelly Rock, who for years was bullied and excluded as a result of a medical condition. Kelly is an amazing young woman, and her blog post spurred a great deal of conversation on our Facebook page.
In response to Kelly’s story, Peter Raffalli, MD, FAAP, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s BACPAC (Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention and Advocacy Collaborative) has written a companion blog exploring bullying’s affect on health and provides advice for parents on behaviors to look out for if you fear your child may be a bullying victim.
Reading Kelly’s account of her childhood experience with bullying, I am truly struck by her courage. She also brings insight on the impact bullying has on its victims and the potential protective influences family and friends can provide. Bullying is such a common and age-old problem, but sometimes I marvel at how overlooked it can be. However, in the last decade we have seen a groundswell of attention to the scourge of bullying.
Kelly clearly had one important weapon in the battle against bullying: a strong, supportive, loving family. Studies show that one of the protective influences in bullying dynamics is a strong supportive family and a good friendship network. Communication between family members is important. Victims of bullying are very reluctant to report it or talk about it. If communication with your child is poor to begin with, then the chance of detecting the bullying is poor. …
On September 21-22 The U.S. Department of Education will host the second annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C. This year’s goals are to engage government and nongovernmental partners to help identify the best ways to reduce bullying. In the following post, a Children’s patient discusses how she was bullied because of her medical condition and shares how her parents and medical team helped her deal with the situation.
By Kelly Rock
Growing up with an identical twin, you can expect a lot of comparisons to your sibling. But for my identical twin sister Megan and I the experience was slightly different. Instead of always hearing, “you guys look so alike,” we heard plenty of comments like, “why doesn’t Kelly look more like Megan?”
I was born with a rare facial deformity called Hypertelorbitism, which basically means I was born with my eyes being far apart and a nose that developed differently. Being born with Hypertelorbatism presented me with a good deal of challenges growing up. At 19 I’ve already undergone 8 surgeries at Children’s Hospital Boston and am scheduled for another one soon. At times I feel like I grew up in the operating room, and there were plenty of times where I wished I could’ve been outside playing with my friends instead of being in a hospital bed attached to IV’s, wires, and drinking all kinds of nasty tasting medicines to ward off infection. But through it all I knew that all the medical attention was best for me. I also knew that my plastic surgeon, John B. Mulliken, MD, director of Children’s of Craniofacial Anomalies Program, would do everything in his power to make me look my very best, even if that meant spending fourteen hours on one surgery. (I underwent that one when I was just 9 years old.)
Growing up, my family and medical team at Children’s were always very supportive in helping me overcome the challenges of Hypertelorbitism, but I can’t say the same about other kids my age. I used to be made fun of on a daily basis because of how I looked. I remember going to camp and having kids laugh and exclude me, or try to make me feel alienated just because I looked different. To this day I vividly remember a day in third grade, when I tried to play hopscotch with some of my classmates but they just turned their backs to and said I couldn’t play. …
She wasn’t the first child to die as a result of bullying. But there was something about her, and about her story, that caught the attention of the world. As the details of her bullying emerged, it seemed clear that her death could have been prevented. There were signs. People knew. But they either didn’t do anything—or they didn’t do the right things.
Phoebe’s story didn’t just cause sadness. It caused outrage. Enough is enough, people said. We can’t let children die. We need to do something. …