The commitment of Kindervelt to KV PEACe has provided the perfect forum to help spread awareness and break the stigma associated with mental health needs. We thank you for partnering with us to help provide education and support on a number of mental health needs. This month, we will explore identifying and reducing one of the potential stressors involved with poor mental health outcomes in youth – bullying.
Bullying: A repeated victimization (physical or emotional) of a person by another person or group. It can take many forms – physical, verbal, sexual, relational, and cyber.
Anyone who is perceived to be different than their peers may be a victim of bullying. It is not only viewed as an individual problem, but a community problem.
Up to 1 out of 3 students say they have been bullied at school. Since the introduction of social media and cell phone texting, now even feeling safe at home is at risk as cyber bullying can be publicly displayed 24/7.
Bullying is considered an Adverse Childhood Event that can contribute to changing a child’s emotional, and mental health development, as well as academic achievement. Children who have been bullied may have increased moodiness or problems concentrating, higher rates of depression or anxiety, complain of body aches, and even miss school. Because it is often a repeated event, research is beginning to understand and explore how these chronic traumatic experiences can increase the risk of physical health problems even into adulthood.
In a 2016 study, our Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics psychologist Dr. Ryan Adams described how teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders have high rates or peer victimization in mainstream school settings, which leads to negative education outcomes.
Poor outcomes are also seen among the bullies themselves, having higher chance of being incarcerated, less likely to be employed or in a stable long-term relationship by the age of 30. Children with depression are 3 times more likely to bully other children. Perhaps a shift toward thinking there is no “bad child,” to recognizing a kid has had bad things happen.
Children (and adults) who are bystanders or witness bullying often fall silent and indirectly participate.
Often the content of bullying can be so embarrassing or degrading that the youth may have a hard time telling someone directly. Youth may keep it private, feeling ashamed of or even responsible for what happened to them, or to avoid consequences that may restrict future social opportunities.
In an effort to turn the tide on America’s bullying epidemic, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center through the support of Procter & Gamble’s Secret Deodorant Mean Stinks anti-bullying initiative, developed the “Girls Guide to End Bullying.” Under the direction of Dr. Ryan Adams, the “Girls Guide to End Bullying” is a web-based interactive curriculum for individual students, teachers or parents, that provide specific tips and advice to girls that they can easily apply to their lives, plus activities that enable them to better understand and overcome each type of bullying. The curriculum has statistically significant proven effectiveness to decrease the experiences of being bullied by 5 percent, with an 11 percent decrease for those girls who were experiencing high levels of bullying before curriculum exposure.
Community efforts are underway focusing on mentoring programs, school-based services, educational services, and workshops/seminars. There is national support to create highly effective programs that target this preventable adverse childhood event. Programs that focus on community connectedness – such as the Sandy Hook Promise, and The Resilience Project through the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For more information on the “Girls Guide to End Bullying” or other community efforts, please contact Sarah Sullivan by email at [email protected]