With schools ringing in a new season, it’s time to address an old problem that’s getting worse. School bullies may be entertaining in television sitcoms and rap music, but in real life they’re a health concern, says the American Medical Association (AMA).
Too many children are being terrorized at school or on the playground and remaining silent about it. Following a spat of tragic school shootings, the AMA reviewed bullying among U.S. children and found that bullies represent 7 to 15 percent of sampled school-age populations and victims represent 10 percent.
The AMA adopted a report calling on physicians, teachers and parents to help reduce bullying behavior among children by being vigilant for signs that children are living in silent fear. In elementary schools, more boys than girls are involved in bullying, however the gender difference decreases in junior high and high school, and social bullying among girls – manipulation done to harm or prevent acceptance into a group – becomes harder to detect.
Bullying is a behavior that involves a pattern of repeated aggression, deliberate intent to harm or scare a victim despite apparent distress. Bullying is usually due to age, race, personality or physical size difference.
The AMA and the National Medical Association have joined hands with teachers and parents in a national campaign to change attitudes about bullying. Schools have anti-bullying kits and routinely conduct on campus workshops aimed at identifying signs of bullying. Parents and healthcare providers are encouraged to help build supportive home environments, and teach children how to get along socially, resolve conflicts, deal with frustration and cope with anger and stress.
To get involved in the national anti- bullying campaign, contact you local school. Without intervention, bullying can lead to death or injury, serious academic, social, emotional, and legal problems.