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Beyond Teasing: One-Third of Today's Kids Involved in Bullying

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The Bottom Line to Bullying continued...

So, what are the long-term results of all this bullying? How do victims and perpetrators fare as adults?

"Kids who are bullied have lower self esteem and higher rates of depression as adults," Nansel tells WebMD. "Youth who were bullies as kids are more likely to have criminal arrests in young adulthood."

As for the kid who is bullied -- and has also found someone he can pick on -- he may be at especially high risk because of his social isolation, anxiety, and aggressive tendencies. These kids are known for their anxious behavior and their aggression in starting fights -- and for finding ways to retaliate, she says.

Caring for the Crisis

Bullying is clearly at a crisis point, says Kathy Noll, who since 1998 has run a web site for the children's book, Taking the Bully By the Horns, which she co-authored with psychotherapist Jay Carter, MA, PsyD. "I must hear from at least seven different parents every day. Most often, their child is being bullied. They come to me for advice."

"We've seen the tragic results of extreme bullying, which appears to be a factor in some of the recent school shootings across the country," says David Fassler, MD, an adolescent psychiatrist and member of a work group on consumer issues for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

"It is important for schools and parents to be alert to the warning signs of bullying and to intervene as early as possible," Fassler tells WebMD.

It's also important to understand the psychology of bullies. Bullies usually have been victims themselves, says Leon Hoffman, MD, a child psychoanalyst and co-director of The New York Psychoanalytic Society's Parent-Child Center. "Or they have been put to shame by someone else -- either a teacher who humiliates him in class, or a parent who is trying to discipline him. Shame is one of the worst feelings to experience. Effective discipline is within the context of a loving relationship, not in the context of trying to shame your kid into some kind of obedience. Shaming creates a terribly vicious cycle. Kids feel compelled to take it out on somebody else."

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