Half of Kids Are Bullied, Study Suggests
Bullied Children More Likely to Report Emotional Problems and Physical Symptoms
The second study involved 1,900 primarily low-income sixth graders attending 11 Los Angeles public schools. Nishina, Juvonen, and colleague Melissa Witkow report that victims of bullying experienced more depression and physical illness and missed more school than kids who weren't bullied. Their school performance also tended to be poorer.
"The more bullying they experience, the more they dislike school and want to avoid school," Nishina says.
The two new studies are not the first to show that bullying is a problem for a large percentage of children. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimates that half of children are bullied and 10% are victims of bullying on a regular basis.
Children are often reluctant to tell their parents they are the victims of bullying. Sudden depression, a decline in school performance, or a reluctance to go to school may all be signs that a child is being bullied.
The AACAP recommendations for parents who know or suspect their child is being bullied include:
- Don't encourage a bullying victim to fight back. Instead, suggest that he or she try walking away to avoid the bully, or that they seek help from an adult.
- Help your child practice what to say the next time he or she is bullied.
- Ask school administrators to find out about programs designed to combat bullying, such as peer mediation, conflict resolution, and anger management.
The UCLA researchers say schools should have comprehensive policies in place to address all forms of bullying. A zero-tolerance policy for bullies, they say, would help victimized children know that they are not alone.
"It affects kids when teachers walk past a bullying incident in the hallway," Juvonen says. "Many teachers don't think that they should intervene, but the message they're sending to the victim by walking away is, 'I don't care.'"