Bullying has become a national epidemic with nearly forty percent of youths admitting to bullying at one time or another. But new research shows that parental behaviors, attitudes and mental health can all influence a child’s potential for bullying. Most parents of children who have been victims of bullying often ask what they can do to protect their children from such harassment. However, new research suggests that the real question to address is how a parent can prevent their child from bullying other children.
Rashmi Shetgiri, MD, FAAP, assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues conducted a survey that identified trends in bullying over a four-year period. They examined the amount of bullying that was reported, and also the additional factors that influenced the rate of bullying. They discovered that the number of children who bullied others rose from 23 percent in 2003 to 35 percent in 2007. Reasons cited for the increase were feelings of neglect or anger felt by the children from their parents. Also, emotional, behavioral and developmental issues were common among children who bullied. And children who reported a mother with mental health challenges showed more potential for becoming a bully.
Dr. Shetgiri believes that effective and healthy communication between parents and children is a vital component to reducing these trends. Additionally, most of the children who were not bullies reported that their parents knew most of their closest friends. In a recent article, Dr. Shetgiri offered advice to parents of bullies. “Targeting interventions to decrease these persistent risk factors and increase the persistent protective factors could lead to decreased bullying,” she said. Parents “also can find effective ways to manage any feelings of anger toward their child and can work with health care providers to make sure any emotional or behavioral concerns they have about their child, as well as their own mental health, are addressed.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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