A National Epidemic
Overall, bullying in schools has become a national epidemic. A study published in the Journal of School Health found that 19 percent of U.S. elementary students are bullied. And each day, more than 160,000 kids stay home from school because they fear being bullied, according to a survey by the National Education Association, a public-education advocacy group.
"Being bullied can have traumatic consequences for a child, leading to poor school performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even depression," says Parents advisor David Fassler, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, in Burlington. Research published in Archives of General Psychiatry revealed that kids who were bullied at age 8 were more prone to psychological problems as teens and early adults. Further, a University of Washington School of Medicine study found that elementary-school kids who are victims of bullying are 80 percent more likely to feel "sad" most days.
Harassment has become such a serious threat to kids' health that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its first official policy statement on the subject last year. It encourages physicians to raise awareness in their local schools and to provide screening and counseling for child victims and their families.
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