Now that our children are expected to have settled into their routines at school, parents should be aware that their child may not be adjusting well to the back-to-school transition. Psychosomatic complaints such as abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, fatigue, skin problems, and sleep disturbances often develop this time of year as a result of anxiety and/or depression. While it’s important we evaluate each symptom thoroughly and objectively, we shouldn’t overlook bullying as one very important cause of low self-esteem and its resulting adverse effects. Denise Napoli reports on new study in Pediatrics which warns parents and pediatricians to look at these psychosomatic symptoms in school-age children as markers of bullying:
Children who suffer bullying are more than twice as likely to have psychosomatic complaints as are their peers who are not bullied, according to a study published online Sept. 16 in the journal Pediatrics.
“Consider bullying as a possible risk factor in any patient with recurrent headaches, breathing problems, poor appetite, sleeping problems, and so on,” advised coauthors Gianluca Gini, Ph.D., and Tiziana Pozzoli, Ph.D.
Indeed, “Any recurrent and unexplained somatic symptom can be a warning sign of bullying victimization,” they added.
It’s not like bullying is an uncommon event. A lot is known about bullying and its damaging effects, which can be life-long:
When asked about the study, Dr. David Fassler said the findings contribute to the growing body of research on the adverse and lasting effects of bullying on both physical and emotional health.
“Despite increased awareness and sensitivity, bullying remains a common experience for many children and adolescents,” Dr. Fassler, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont in Burlington, said in an interview. “Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.”
The problem is so common, in fact, that the authors of the study conclude:
Given that school bullying is a widespread phenomenon in many countries around the world, the present results indicate that bullying should be considered a significant international public health problem.
More PediaBlog on bullying here.