New Public Health Problem: Bullying

First, it was obesity.  Now it's bullying.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just announced that bullying is a public health problem.  I guess it still counts if it happens in your family, too.

Sadly, the CDC has proposed this because of its link to suicide, according to Howard Mandel.

Mandel writes that the suggestion has been made that "educators and health care professionals should consider broadening their focus beyond just providing services for those who are already involved in bullying or suicide-related behaviors, but also towards developing strategies to prevent bullying and suicidal behavior from happening in the first place."

Makes sense to me.  I remember when I was in school back in the '60s and '70s, bullying went on and no one pretty much talked about it.  Kids being shaken down for their lunch money.  Being ridiculed because their teeth stuck out, or wore glasses (me).  I even had a friend with cerebral palsy who had a slight limp and a hand that was paralyzed who was made fun of all the time.  It was horrible.

But back then, it was just accepted that bullying was a part of school life, and bully and bullied would eventually grow out of it. (My friend grew up to marry, have a career, and three children.)

Today, with social media, instant communication and a listening audience of thousands, the opportunity for
bullying -- and suicide -- has grown exponentially.

 Mandel reports that this new CDC designation grew out of recent studies that found that there was a real connection between bullying and depression and suicide, and in fact, in one analysis, was found to be a direct cause of suicide in girls.

I worried when my son started middle school last year that he might be bullied.  Nerdy and kind of smart, addicted to computers, I was concerned kids would pick on him.  Happily, I was completely wrong, but there's always high school and in life, you never know what's around the corner.

My husband says he'll deal with it by collaring the guilty kid, but of course, you can't do that.  We just have to try and teach him what to do if someone does start intimidating him.  But I pray, like most parents, he'll never need the lesson.


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