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Health & Parenting

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Bullying Increasing: First Boys, Now Girls

Bullying Can Lead to Bigger Problems Down the Road

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 12, 2005 (Washington) -- That schoolyard bully who pushes, punches, and threatens other children may in turn commit assault behaviors later, says a Washington-based pediatrician.

Bullying is a growing problem, with the average number of school-based violent events involving multiple victims increasing from one event per school year in 1992 to more than five events per year in 1998, according to a HELP Network fact sheet.

Studies have shown that the prevalence of bullying is about 30% in school-age children, says Joseph Wright, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine, and prevention & community health at Children's National Medical Center. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, approximately 30% of youths are involved in bullying by either being the victim, the bully, or both.

Girl Bullies on the Rise

The researchers cited other studies that showed that at age 11, 25% of boys and 14% of girls report bullying others. And at least 22% of boys and 26% of girls report being bullied.

"While bullying once was seen as an activity of boys, there has been a burgeoning increase in the number of girls who bully," Wright says. "Girls now threaten, use innuendos, and tease others about their clothes as ways to interact together. They are joining in. Many are bullying through the format of 'cyber bullying' through emails, instant and text messaging, and camera phones."

Styles of bullying range from the direct of pushing, punching, spitting, and tripping to the more indirect of threats of teasing, spreading rumors, and shunning, he says.

Bullying is associated with higher rates of frequent fighting and injuries and weapon carrying, with the associations being stronger for bullies than targets, he told those attending the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.

"This isn't a low-morbidity activity," notes Wright. "Bullying behavior presents the risk of serious behaviors down the stream. Bullying is weapon carrying, frequent fighting, and injuries."

Bullies More Likely to Carry Weapons

Previous studies have shown that children who were bullied at school and outside of school on a weekly basis were four times more likely to carry a weapon and 3.8 times more likely to bring a weapon to school, he says.

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