Bullying can be reduced but many common approaches ineffective

January 11, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- School-based programs involving multiple disciplines reduce bullying in elementary school, junior or senior high schools according to a systematic review of over 2000 studies on bullying published in English. The review was published in the January 2007 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"We found bullying can be curbed, but that many common methods of dealing with the problem, such as classroom discussions, role playing or detention, are ineffective. Whole school interventions involving teachers, administrators, and social workers committed to culture change are the most effective and are especially effective at the junior and senior high school level," says the paper's first author, Rachel Vreeman, M.D. She and co-author Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S. are with the Indiana Children's Health Services Research section of the Department of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Carroll is also an affiliated scientist of the Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

"Bullying is a complex health problem for both girls and boys. Up to ten percent of children are bullied or are bullies themselves. As a pediatrician, I see a growing number of children with physical, social and emotional problems, including lower self esteem, that are the result of bullying," said Dr. Vreeman.

Bullying includes punching, pushing and other physically aggressive actions, malicious teasing, ganging up on other children, as well as other malevolent actions toward others. For both sexes physical bullying peaks between ages 7 and 9 and becomes significantly less physical by high school according to Dr. Vreeman.

"As pediatricians, we need to ask about bullying and be advocates to get schools to effectively intervene to improve the environments where children study," she said.
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The study was funded by the IU School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics. The IU School of Medicine is located at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana's urban research and academic health sciences campus.

Indiana University

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