Pediatricians’ role in dealing with bullying

Perri Klass, M.D., thoughtfully tells a story on herself about how her thinking about both victims and bullies has changed – and how differently she’d approach them as a pediatrician, based on what we now know from the research. In her commentary in the New York Times, she also reports a key development in pediatrics: “Next month, the American Academy of Pediatrics will publish the new version of an official policy statement on the pediatrician’s role in preventing youth violence. For the first time, it will have a section on bullying.” This is huge progress. Klass also touches on what schools can do about bullying, adding the vital healthcare piece to the judicial one (the view of a juvenile judge in Georgia blogged about here) and the school piece (see this about a new anti-bullying program for schools called CAPSULE). She writes that, “for a successful anti-bullying program, the school needs to survey the children and find out the details – where it happens, when it happens…. Through class discussions, parent meetings and consistent responses to every incident, the school must put out the message that bullying will not be tolerated…. Parents of these children need to be encouraged to demand that schools take action, and pediatricians probably need to be ready to talk to the principal. And we need to follow up with the children to make sure the situation gets better, and to check in on their emotional health and get them help if they need it.”

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