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School Bullies: A Growing Health Menace

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
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.

Responding to an alarming increase in anger and incivility on school campuses, the AMA recently reviewed bullying among U.S. children and found that bullies represent 10 to 15 percent of sampled school age populations and victims represent 13 percent.

The AMA has joined hands with the National Medical Association local and state police agencies and other community organizations 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.  As part of an ongoing national campaign, schools have anti-bullying kits and routinely conduct on campus workshops aimed at identifying signs of and prevents 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 your local school district. Without intervention, bullying can lead to death or injury, serious academic, social, emotional, and legal problems.

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