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Bullying May Be Linked to Violence at Home

Study Shows Bullies and Victims of Bullying Are More Likely to Be Exposed to Violence at Home

Red Flags for Bullying continued...

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach agrees. “Bullying is a prevalent problem in schools and in the lives of young people and it can have dire consequences,” he says via email. “For these reasons, it is important to prevent bullying before it starts, rather than merely developing responses when it occurs."

Going forward, he says, “Changing social climate in schools and supporting young people in developing healthy relationships with adults and peers are the best ways to prevent bullying.”

Auerbach says that youth who have more social support from adults and peers are less likely to experience severe negative consequences from bullying. “So, when bullying does occur, it is very important that parents take it seriously and take a role in working with the child’s school to find a solution,” he says. “Parents can talk with their children about the bullying, express empathy, and never suggest that the bullying is the victim’s fault.”

“Bullying now follows kids to their home, and we are starting to hear more stories about kids hurting themselves or others to get out of the bullying,” says Jennifer Newman, PhD, a staff psychologist in the division of trauma psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y. Newman’s hospital offers free counseling to children who are affected by bullying.

Prevention of bullying starts at home. “Parents have to be really aware of what is going on with children and talk openly about bullying and be in contact with their school and teachers and work together as a team,” she says.  “Schools are rolling out programs to stop bullying, but they are finding that these programs may not be as effective if they don’t include families.”

“This is an interesting and helpful study which provides detailed state-specific data on the incidence and consequences of bullying,” says David Fassler, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington.

“Consistent with previous reports, the findings indicate that bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents,” he says in an email.

“The results also demonstrate that bullying is associated with numerous significant risk factors including suicidal thoughts and attempts, witnessing violence, and being physically hurt by a family member,” he says. "The study underscores the importance of early identification and comprehensive intervention for both bullies and their victims.”

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