New report from Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota explores health impact of bullying on children Report calls attention to sick and special needs kids who are particularly vulnerable to attack and explores the developmental consequences of bullying
MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL, Minn., July 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to draw greater attention to the health and developmental impacts bullying has on children, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota today released a report called, "Understanding the Threat of Bullying." The report examines bullying as a public health threat from a medical provider perspective.
"Any child is susceptible to bullying but, based on our experience, we also know that children who are sick or have special needs are even more vulnerable to bullying-related behavior and may suffer a setback in their health or development as a result," said Alan L. Goldbloom, MD, CEO of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. "Our clinical perspective drives us to dig deeper into what this dynamic means for kids and to explore how we as a medical community can help children navigate this threat."
The paper draws on literature review and interviews with medical professionals and bullying experts to delve deeper into the problem of bullying. The report also explores the challenge of defining bullying; identifies risk factors associated with bullies, victims and bystanders; and discusses potential responses to bullying. The report offers guidance to parents, adapted from some of the leading experts on bullying, about how to best monitor and address bullying-related activity with their children in a developmentally appropriate way.
Key statistics that underscore the observations in the report include:
- Bullying is common in Minnesota: About one in seven Minnesota children are regularly bullied — an estimated 100,000 kids each year.
- Bullying is bad for health: Children who are bullied or involved in bullying are more likely than their peers to suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness and post-traumatic stress. They are also at a heightened risk of suicide.     
- Kids with special needs are bullied at higher rates: One study found that up to 94 percent of students with disabilities report experiencing some form of victimization. 
Understanding bullying in relation to normal conflict is a key discussion point in the paper. As parents, health care providers, school officials and others work to strike the appropriate balance between intervening in conflicts between children and independent problem solving, this document offers language and visual guidance to help determine what is and is not bullying.
"In order to effectively address bullying, it's important to understand how it relates to normal conflict, which is a common problem that all kids need to learn to navigate," said Michael Troy, PhD, LP, a clinical psychologist and medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. "With this understanding, health care providers, schools and parents will be in a better position to recognize behavior that falls outside the normal range and make decisions about the best approaches to address bullying."
In identifying bullying as a public health threat, the paper likens it to other community health problems that require community-wide solutions. Throughout the summer and fall, Children's will continue the conversation with medical providers and community stakeholders about the community's respective roles in addressing bullying. The summer discussions will culminate with an information sharing event on Sept. 11, where Children's will host Emily Bazelon, a nationally renowned author and speaker on bullying.
The report on bullying is the fourth study in the Children's Check-Ups initiative, a series of in-depth reports designed to invite discussion and collective action on issues impacting the health and well-being of children in Minnesota. A list of resources and partnerships devoted to reducing and preventing bullying in Minnesota, and the full report, are available at www.childrensmn.org/bullying.
About Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota:
Serving as Minnesota's children's hospital since 1924, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is one of the largest pediatric health care organizations in the United States, with 381 staffed beds at its two hospitals in St. Paul and Minneapolis. An independent, not-for-profit health care system, Children's of Minnesota provides care through more than 12,000 inpatient visits and more than 300,000 emergency room and other outpatient clinic visits every year. Children's is the only Minnesota hospital system to provide comprehensive care exclusively to children. Please visit www.childrensmn.org.
 Minnesota Department of Education. Bullying in Minnesota Schools: An analysis of the Minnesota Student Survey, 2010. http://education.state.mn.us/
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SOURCE Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota