Adrienne Mott-Young: Bullying takes a toll on children


Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

Research shows that more than 100,000 school days are lost a year to bullying.

Our young people desire to find their place within their social environments. This, combined with the raging hormones they experience during this crucial time in their lives, can cause them to lash out at and hurt others whom they may perceive as different.

Many adults think of bullying as physical violence, which is true, but that is not the only form of bullying. Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and other forms of technology — such as texting on cellphones, or social media websites like Twitter or Facebook — to make others people feel bad about themselves.

It is an increasing problem in our society. Both real and online name calling can have serious emotional effects and be just as harmful as pushing or punching.

Symptoms that your child may be experiencing bullying include: a change in appetite, restless sleeping, a drop in grades or wanting to avoid going to school.

As a pediatrician, I strongly urge parents to become involved in preventing their children from being victims of bullying.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers online resources for help with bullying at www2.aap.org/connectedkids and healthychildren.org. Talk to your children. Ask them, “How are things going at school? Does anyone get picked on or bullied at school?”

Teach your child how to respond to bullying by, for instance, saying, “I don't like what you are doing to me.” Teach your child when and how to ask for help.

Alert school officials to the problem and work with them on solutions.

It is important to screen and limit your child's use of the Internet and other electronic devices.

If we all work together, we can help our children feel safer at school.

Dr. Adrienne Mott-Young lives in Gainesville.

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