Bullying is increasingly a major concern of parents, teachers, and school administrators. Kids may be bullied for a variety of reasons - or for no real reason at all. Weight-related bullying is not a new phenomenon. With all the current media attention to childhood obesity, this type of bullying seems to be increasing among students of all ages.
What we know
- Being overweight can increase the chances of a child being bullied: Several recent studies have confirmed that obese children were twice as likely to be bullied than other kids.
- Bullying can take a toll on a child’s physical and mental health: Medical experts say that being bullied can have serious effects on both physical and emotional well-being.
- A student’s academic performance may also be affected by bullying: A 2011 study found that bullying victims often show a long-lasting decrease in grade point averages.
What parents can do
1: Talk to your children about all types of bullying.
- Children are often afraid to talk about being bullying by their peers. They may be especially embarrassed if they already feel shamed or blamed about their weight.
- Watch for signs that your child may be dealing with bullies, like problems at school or with previous friends. Keep asking and talking whenever you are concerned.
2: Take a zero-tolerance policy on weight-related teasing at home.
- Teasing - or any negative comments - about a child’s weight can have long-lasting effects on self-esteem. They may even be the first step toward an eating disorder.
- If you have concerns about a child’s health status, discuss them privately with your health care provider first. Make appropriate lifestyle changes for the whole family.
3: Help your school understand weight-related bullying.
- Request that weight issues be included in your district’s anti-bullying education. The Yale Rudd Center has useful materials at www.yaleruddcenter.org/what_we_do.aspx?id=197.
4: Help all children enjoy Health at Every Size®.
- For more about Health at Every Size® for children, download Everybody in Schools Curriculum Unit Resource Kit www.naafaonline.com/dev2/education/haesschool.html.