Prevention and intervention in bullying
Sadly, bullying has always been a part of childhood. Today, the escalation of physical and verbal bullying, as well as the proliferation of aggression through electronic media, is alarming. Approximately 25 percent of schoolchildren report that they are bullied every year, and often bullying is not even reported.
Your commitment to having conversations about bullying, and/or providing intervention when needed, can be influential in engaging and involving your patients and their families in understanding that bullying in any form is not acceptable.
Bullying includes three components:
- Behavior that is aggressive and that involves unwanted negative action.
- Behavior that is repetitive.
- Behavior that involves an imbalance of power or strength.
Bullying can be in different forms, including:
Regardless of the type of bullying, both the victim and the bully need intervention from trusted adults, including parents, school officials, and physicians.
You can make a difference. Start the conversation with your patients about bullying in all its forms and provide the appropriate guidance and interventions.
In the article “Bullying: What a pediatrician should know,” providers are advised to think of bullying on a continuum of harassment, and look for the same signs they would note for any other type of abuse, including physical injury, depression/anxiety/other mental health concerns, and somatic complaints.
Some tips for early detection and effective intervention from Stop Bullying are:
- When faced with a child who has an unusual new onset of school phobia or attention problems, gently inquire about being picked on or teased before, during, or after school.
- Routinely monitor for and intervene quickly when risk factors are evident for children who bully and those who are bullied.
- Engage and educate parents and caregivers about the issue.
- Assist families/parents and caregivers in detecting and responding to signs of bullying and in accessing support and resources.
- Have materials and resources on bullying readily accessible in your office.
Resources for you and your staff:
- Pennsylvania’s anti-bullying bullying laws and policies
- Bullying: It’s Not OK. A brochure available through the AAP program Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure.