How Bullying Affects Health

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 04:11 PM

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Medical experts are increasing calling for bullying to be regarded not just as minor schoolyard misbehavior, but a serious public health issue with significant implications for the mental and physical well-being of both victims and perpetrators, according to a new report on the LiveScience Website.

Jorge Srabstein, M.D., medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at the Children's National Medical Center, has long emphasized bullying's very real physical and mental health effects.

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"Bullying is linked to a wide range of health issues, both physical and emotional symptoms," said Dr. Srabstein, who has both studied the issue and treated thousands of children in his practice. Bullying affects "kids involved in bullying as victims, or as perpetrators, or as both," he added.
 
Those bullied and their bullies alike complain of headaches and stomachaches, have difficulty falling asleep, and suffer depression and anxiety. People affected by bullying often also have multiple symptoms.
 
CNMC estimates 10 percent of U.S. children suffer this cluster of symptoms. Between 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 U.S. students report being bullied, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
 
Health professionals can help in the fight against bullying by contributing to community and school programs to increase awareness of bullying and promoting a more respectful environment.
 
"In the same way that schools have had to identify public health issues like the measles or curvature of the spine," schools and doctors need to work together to find signs of bullying, Dr. Srabstein said.

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