Although Americans sometimes dismiss bullying in school as a childhood rite of passage, this form of aggression may have long-lasting psychological ramifications for victims as well as for bullies, reports the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
Victims of chronic childhood bullying are more likely to develop depression or think about suicide as adults compared with those who weren't bullied, while former bullies are more likely to be convicted of criminal charges.
Recognizing such long-term consequences, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its policy statement about preventing youth violence to include information about how to identify and help children who are being bullied.
A number of resources to prevent bullying are now available, often free of charge, to help students, parents, and administrators address this issue in schools. These prevention efforts aim at empowering victims to stand up to bullies; encouraging parents, teachers, and other bystanders to report bullying incidents; and creating a school environment that prevents or censures bullying. Many of these programs seek to instill resilience in children and adolescents and teach them techniques that will help them withstand other types of stress as they grow older.
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, notes that other bullying prevention programs focus on finding ways to reduce violence at home—by providing training to parents who may yell, hit, or otherwise act aggressively toward their children.
Read the full-length article: "Taking on school bullies"