AAP 2011: The Bullying Epidemic

Article

One of the hotter topics at the AAP conference this year has been bullying. So when attendees saw that Joseph L. Wright, MD, MPH, FAAP, was giving a presentation on this topic on Sunday afternoon, they flocked to the session.

One of the hotter topics at the AAP conference this year has been bullying. So when attendees saw that Joseph L. Wright, MD, MPH, FAAP, was giving a presentation on this topic on Sunday afternoon, they flocked to the session.

Dr. Wright began by telling the audience that they need to familiarize themselves with one particular website and one particular person. The website he was referring to is www.stopbullying.gov, which “provides information from various government agencies on how kids, teens, young adults, parents,educators and others in the community can prevent or stop bullying, and the person he was referring to is Susan Limber, a pioneer in bullying research.

Wright went on to explain that, in order to solve a problem, it is first necessary to understand that problem. Limber has been the driving force behind collecting information on bullying over the last ten years in order to provide accurate baseline data.

The interesting part about Limber’s research is that there doesn’t seem to be any increase in bullying prevalence over time. The one major difference, said Wright, is that awareness levels have changed. Then he went on to display some jarring information from a study of 41 school shooters who were involved in 37 attacks. In most cases, the plans were attacked and at least one other person suspected that the individual could be capable of the atrocity. More importantly, Wright told the audience that approximately 66% of those shooters felt persecuted in some way, and this really drove home the repercussions of bullying. While not many cases are this extreme, the simple fact is that bullying can play a large part in tragedies like these.

Here are some other noteworthy tidbits from Wright’s session:

  • Depression and suicide ideation are common outcomes of being bullied
  • Associations are stronger for indirect versus direct (physical) forms of bullying
  • Nearly all states have some form of anti-bullying legislation (South Dakota and District of Columbia do not)
  • One of the biggest challenges in this area is that not enough adults understand the severity of the issue

Wright’s data-driven presentation made clear the importance of monitoring situations involving bullying in children. Pediatricians are well positioned in terms of understanding the impact of this epidemic and Wright believes they need to be the ones to advocate legislation and awareness.

If anyone should know about the true severity of bullying, it is Wright, who began the presentation by recalling his experiences working in the ER and how he has seen the true ugliness of what bullying can do. As he has said in the past, bullying “has been an under-recognized area of risk, and long considered a normal right of passage and behavior that is acceptable. What I am trying to demonstrate through elucidation of the more recent research is that bullying can certainly be a contributor to concerning behaviors and outcomes that we don't want to see in our young people.”

Related Videos
HCPLive Five at ACC 2024 | Image Credit: HCPLive
Sunny Rai, PhD: “I” Language Markers Do Not Detect Depression in Black Individuals
Ankeet Bhatt, MD, MBA | Credit: X.com
Ankeet Bhatt, MD, MBA | Credit: X.com
Sara Saberi, MD | Credit: University of Michigan
Muthiah Vaduganathan, MD, MPH | Credit: Brigham and Women's Hospital
Veraprapas Kittipibul, MD | Credit: X.com
Rebecca A. Andrews, MD: Issues and Steps to Improve MDD Performance Measures
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.