Your Child

Don’t Ignore Sibling Bullying

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When brothers and sisters pick on, harass, hit, punch, kick, insult and generally harass other siblings they’re not typically identified as bullies. The response is more often “kids will be kids”. But if the same treatment is launched against a peer at school they could suffer some pretty hefty consequences such as expulsion, being arrested on an assault charge, fined or put in detention.

Many times sibling conflicts seem to get a free ride. It’s not that parents don’t eventually step in and stop prolonged fights or separate siblings when things get too out of hand – they often do – but it’s seldom considered bullying. New research suggests that children do see it as being bullied by a brother or sister and that it is harmful to a child or teenager’s mental health.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics looked at the mental health consequences of bullying between siblings.

“Historically, sibling aggression has been unrecognized, or often minimized or dismissed, and in some cases people believe it’s benign or even good for learning about conflict in other relationships,” says Corinna Jenkins Tucker, lead author of the paper and an associate professor of family studies at the University of New Hampshire.

“That’s generally not the case in peer relationships. There appears to be different norms for what is accepted. What is acceptable between siblings is generally not acceptable between peers.”

The line between normal sibling mischievousness and hostility or violence is a little uncertain sometimes. The age of the child can make a big difference. Younger children tend to act out more on impulse, but as they get older more thought can go into devising an attack or humiliation. That’s where the line gets a little clearer.

Having to deal with sibling conflict and competitiveness is one way children learn to negotiate their way through life. Early on they can begin to learn constructive ways to handle disagreements, sharing and standing up for them-selves.

If siblings fight and argue, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is bullying taking place. But there are signs that point to more than just normal sibling rivalry.  Some indications that can signal when a child is being bullied by a sibling are:

- One child is always the aggressor and one is always the victim.

- A child is afraid to be left alone with a certain sibling or siblings.

- Bruising or evidence of physical assault.

- Verbal hostility directed at a particular sibling.

- Fascination with violence by the aggressive sibling.

Tucker’s report used data from The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, a phone survey that collected the experiences of 3,599 children aged 1 month to 17 years who had at least one sibling younger than 18 living in the household at the time of the interview. One child was randomly selected to be the subject of three telephone interviews.

Children ages 10 to 17 answered the questions themselves; for children younger than 10, the parents answered the questions. The researcher acknowledged a potential limitation of the study because some parents may not know what goes on between siblings when they are not around to witness it.

The study’s interviewers asked about incidences of sibling aggression in the past year, and they also assessed mental health by asking how often the children experienced anger, depression and anxiety.

Of the children interviewed (or interviewed by proxy), 32 percent reported experiencing at least one type of sibling victimization in the past year. Researchers found that “all types of sibling aggression, both mild and severe, were associated with significantly higher distress symptom scores for both children and adolescents,” the study authors write.

Rules about bullying at schools have grown much clearer. There’s a list of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. While bullying by peers can have very hurtful consequences – imagine sharing a bedroom or home with your worst nightmare. You may have a place where you can escape to at school, but not at home.

Parenting is both difficult and rewarding. You’re not going to be able to keep your kids from getting angry at one another. They are going to fight and fuss. But, you can keep an eye on the level of aggression and draw the line at certain actions. Encourage your children to tell you when they feel bullied. Also encourage resolution building. Family conferences may seem old fashioned, but they are helpful in giving everyone a chance to speak their minds and work on less aggressive solutions. If a child is continuously aggressive and abusive, he or she may need professional help. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about pediatric or adolescent mental health resources.

A home should be a place where your child feels loved and safe, not a battleground.

Source: Melissa Dahl, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/parents-dont-ignore-sibling-bullying-study-warns-6C10327300 

Your Child

Severe Obesity On the Rise in U.S. Kids

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In February of this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of a study that looked at whether the obesity rate in U.S. children was increasing, decreasing or holding steady. They found encouraging news that the obesity in preschoolers was on the decline and the percentage of obesity in older children was not increasing. That seemed to be very good news indeed.

However, a new study using the same data as the previous study-only extending the years investigated-has more sobering results. Extreme obesity among U.S. kids is on the rise.

"We found that the number of extremely obese kids seems to be increasing," said lead researcher Asheley Cockrell Skinner, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina. "This is particularly true for school-age girls and teenage boys."

For the new report, published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, Skinner and a colleague used the same National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data as the CDC researchers, but extended their research from 1999 to 2012.

"When extending the data out to 14 years, we see there isn't really a decline. We need to be cautious about reports that say obesity is declining and assume things are better." Skinner noted.

Categories of obesity are based on a child's height and weight in relation to their peers. A 10-year-old boy who is 4 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds is considered obese, according to Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. At 130 pounds, that boy would be severely obese.

"This paper will come as a sobering reality check for any who believed the recent headlines about childhood obesity rates plummeting," he said.

Severe obesity in children is rising, he said, adding that this is a critical piece of information.

"Severe obesity is much more likely to induce serious chronic disease and steal years from life," Katz said. "It calls out for clinical interventions, up to and including weight-loss surgery."

For the new study, Skinner's team examined data on nearly 26,700 children ages 2 to 19 years old. For the years 2011-12, they found 32 percent of America's children were overweight and 17 percent were obese. Among obese kids, 8 percent were severely obese, the researchers said.

When specific categories of obesity were examined, more bad news emerged. Among girls, the researchers found obesity rates jumped from 14.5 percent in 1999-2000 to 17.4 percent by 2011-12. And severe obesity among girls climbed from 0.9 percent in 1999-2000 to 2.3 percent by 2011-12.

In boys, obesity rose from 14.6 percent in 1999-2000 to 17.2 percent by 2011-12, while severe obesity grew from 1 percent to 2 percent.

A second study published in JAMA Pediatrics, analyzed the additional costs associated with childhood obesity. The report suggested that, over the course of a lifetime, higher medical costs with severely obese children increased about $19,000 per person. A child in the normal weight range, who becomes overweight or obese in adulthood, could expect an extra increase of about $12,900 per person for medical costs.

"To put these findings in perspective, multiplying the lifetime medical cost estimate of $19,000 times the number of obese 10-year-olds today generates a total direct medical cost of obesity of roughly $14 billion for this age alone," wrote Eric Andrew Finklestein, PhD, from the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University, and colleagues.

Authors who conducted the study on the rise of severe obesity in kids noted that more research is needed to determine which public health programs, if any, are helpful in preventing obesity.

Obesity in children is linked to a number of medical conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, early heart disease, diabetes, bone problems and skin conditions such as heat rash, fungal infections and acne. According to the CDC, obese children tend to become obese adults and are more risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoporosis.

Weight is a touchy subject in our culture. Nobody likes the word obese. But medically speaking, it’s a reality that too many of our children are overweight, obese and severely obese. Parents are the key in helping their children get their weight under control. It doesn’t mean that every child has to be skinny or even what is considered normal weight for his or her height and age. But they should be close to a healthy weight.  Children without a medical condition ought to be able to run, skip, walk and play without being exhausted or gasping for air after a few minutes. 

If you are unsure whether your child is at a normal weight, underweight, overweight or possibly obese, talk to your family doctor or pediatrician. Calculating the body-mass-index (BMI) for children is different than for adults. Your child’s doctor should be able to help you determine your child’s BMI and recommend a nutritional diet and exercise plan for your child and family.

Sources: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/04/07/more-us-children-severely-obese-study-says

Salynn Boyles, http://www.medpagetoday.com/Endocrinology/Obesity/45150

Your Child

A Time of Giving

1.45 to read

There seems to be a lot to be upset about lately such as the senseless killings in Connecticut, the “end of the world” Mayan calendar, the fiscal cliff and so on. All these negatives can be overwhelming. The only recent event that truly breaks my heart and gives me pause are the killings in Connecticut. There are no words to express how profoundly sad and disturbing it is to think of those murdered children, teachers and school officials. I can’t even imagine the pain the parents, families and friends are in.

What gives me comfort is to know that although there is great sorrow in the world – there is also great joy and love. Too often, what is presented in the media is all about hate and disaster. But, I believe there is much more positive than negative going on. We can start believing that darkness is around every corner and we can let fear guide our lives, missing the beauty that is all around us. Beauty is more than something that pleases our eyes; it’s also the love that surrounds us. The essence of being that is brighter than our darkest insecurity.

Christmas is tomorrow and the stress of presents, families and entertaining is abundant. But that may be because we’ve let it get it out of control. The simple act of dinner together and remembering the love ones that have passed on as well as celebrating the new ones entering our lives may seem obsolete. But as adults, sharing time and laughter, a couple of toasts and a prayer of gratitude can bring peace of mind. Forgiveness and gratitude can bring peace of heart.

Children are our better selves. They are the innocence that brings hope to a new day. Let them celebrate this wondrous holiday with joy and special attention. Let them be the center of our attention so that wonderful memories are built around the love we give them that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

We were children once and one day our children may have children of their own; that’s the circle of life. When we put our own desires aside and give to others the gift of joy and optimism, we give the best gift of all. We reflect the gift that has been given to us- life and all that comes with this amazing journey.

Seek truth, offer hope and smile with an open heart when you see the joy in a small child’s eyes. Because in that moment you are the best you can be. Christmas may have once been a celebration of winter solstice, a pagan ritual and a holiday was that actually outlawed for a time. But for many Christians it is the honoring of the birth of Jesus. Whatever your belief, Christmas and the holiday season can be a time when we put aside our biases, our pettiness and our anger and reach out to those who need our support with a loving touch and a gentle word. The more we practice a kind approach, the better we get at it until we’re able to carry the Christmas spirit throughout the New Year. 

During this holiday time, may God bless and give comfort to the families in Connecticut and those in America and around the world who have suffered great loss. Seek truth, offer hope and smile with an open heart to all who pass your way.

Merry Christmas to all!

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Your Child

When Are Kids Ready to Stay Home Alone?

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There will come a time when your child is going to want to stay home alone whether it’s after school (or during school breaks), on the weekend or when mom and dad need to run errands or go on a much deserved date night.

How do you know when your child is ready to stay home alone? A lot depends on your child and their ability to take home-alone responsibility seriously.

Child experts generally agree that children should be at least eleven or twelve years old before parents consider leaving them without supervision, but there are other factors to consider as well. Is the neighborhood mostly a safe one? Are there neighbors that are around that can lend a hand during an emergency? Does your child know what to do if a stranger comes to the door or calls? Is your child generally responsible with such tasks as homework, chores, and day-to-day decisions?

Kids who are allowed to stay by them selves should be able to handle the following routine tasks:

  • Knows how to properly answer the telephone. Kids should never disclose to an unfamiliar voice that they are alone. An appropriate response would be: “My mom’s not able to come to the phone right now; can I take your number and have her get back to you?”
  • Knows what to do and who to call in the event of a fire, a medical crisis, a suspicious stranger at the door or other emergency. Teach your child the correct way to respond to each of these situations. Make sure emergency phone numbers are placed in easy to find areas such as on the refrigerator and by the phone. If your child uses a cell phone, have emergency numbers ready in “favorites” or together in a group contact page titled emergency. Go over all exits (including windows- make sure they can be opened quickly) in the house and be sure they know at least two escape routes from the home.
  • Knows where to find the first-aid supplies and how to handle basic
first aid (or whom to call) for cuts, scrapes, nosebleeds, minor burns and so on.
  • Knows where the breaker box is in the house and how to switch on and off an electrical circuit breaker or replace a fuse.
  • Knows where to find the shutoff valves on all toilets and sinks, as
well as the main water valve, in the event of a leak or overflowing toilet.
  • Knows how to put out a cooking fire. Keep baking soda, flour or a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Kids should be taught to never to throw water on a grease fire.
  • Knows how to contact you in an emergency.
  • Knows the names of his or her pediatrician or family doctor and the preferred family hospital.

Some of these ideas may seem like overkill for kids who may be staying by them selves for only a couple of hours, but knowing any of the undertakings listed above is helpful even when the whole family is home.

Before your child is allowed to go-it-alone for a bit, make sure they understand the rules and what you expect of them. Create a “contract” so there is no confusion or misunderstandings and have them read it and sign it. Contracts also work well when kids are learning to drive or when they get their first cell phone. It’s simply rules set in writing that outline expectations – as well as consequences when the rules are broken.

A few things to consider covering when setting rules are:

  • Is he/she allowed to have friends over? How many? Same-sex friends only?
  • Under what circumstances is he/she to answer the door? Or are they not to open the door at all?
  • Which activities are off-limits? For example, if your home is wired for cable television, are there channels he/she is prohibited from watching? (Parents who are not home in the afternoon might want to investigate purchasing parental-control tools for TVs and for computers linked to the Internet. Though by no means infallible, the “V-chip” and Web filters do enable you to choose the types of programming that come into your home).
  • Is he/she expected to complete her homework and/or certain chores before you get home? Try your best to contact your child while you are away, even if it’s only a brief conversation to find out how his or her day went. Kids should always be able to reach you or another responsible adult, either by phone, e-mail, text or pager.

As for parents, turn about is fair play. If you’re not going to be home when you say you are, let your child know and give them a time when they can expect you. While they may act all grown up because they have the run of the house, studies have shown that kids who are by them selves, even for short periods of time, can become anxious and overwhelmed especially if anything out of the ordinary happens.

These days there are plenty of temptations from the Internet, television programs, peers and social media that can get even a “good” kid in trouble, but that doesn’t mean they should be kept in a bubble. Children need to experience greater doses of independence as they get older, but they need to know the rules.

Summertime is when a lot of kids are going to experience being unsupervised for one reason or another. If your child is itching to go it alone, consider the above outline and how he or she typically handles responsibilities. You may decide it’s time to give it a try, or you may feel that they’re just not ready yet. Either way, you’ve given it serious consideration and know the time when they will have that opportunity is probably drawing near.

Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Is-Your-Child-Ready-To-Stay-Home-Alone.aspx

Your Child

Cleaning Your Child's Ears

Earwax is a helpful and natural part of your body's defenses. It protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. It's not known why some people experience earwax blockage or why earwax blockage often occurs in only one ear.There you are, admiring your beautiful child, and suddenly you notice a glob of wax in her ear! You wonder… should I clean it out?  The simple answer is no. The more complex answer is maybe… but only under the direction of your pediatrician.

On the one hand, earwax buildup can be acutely uncomfortable; on the other, cleaning the ear risks causing infection or damaging the baby's delicate eardrum. Did you know that earwax is actually beneficial? Earwax is a helpful and natural part of your body's defenses. It protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. It's not known why some people experience earwax blockage or why earwax blockage often occurs in only one ear. The substance  is a combination of several chemicals (including cholesterol) that's secreted by many of the same glands that help keep the body's skin moist and hydrated. It's manufactured in the outer ear canal but carried towards the ear's edge by the movement of the jaw, taking dirt, dust and other harmful agents along with it. Earwax varies among different ethnic groups. Among Asians and Native Americans, earwax is flaky and gray. Caucasian and Afro-centric people typically have earwax that is damp and honey- or brown-colored. Cleaning baby's delicate ears Instead of giving into the temptation to grab a Q-tip and gently trying to remove the wax, parents are strongly encouraged to let their baby's doctors clean the child's ears during routine wellness visits. They'll use special instrumentation that won't prove a danger to puncturing or scratching the eardrum. If wax buildup becomes a problem, ask your pediatrician for his or her recommended method. This way you can be sure of the procedure. Excessive earwax around the ear canal can put pressure on baby's eardrum, resulting in balance problems and severe discomfort. Never insert a cotton swab, your finger, or any other cleaning implement into your child's ear canal. Even light contact is enough to scratch the eardrum. Moreover, cotton swabs can pack the dirt, dust, and other harmful particulate matter closer to the eardrum, actually increasing the risk of infection. Some health care item manufacturers promote special bell-shaped swabs for cleaning the baby's outer ear. While these are safety-tested to present no danger to the child's inner ear, parents should still use them with caution. Earwax buildup can be slowed simply by keeping the child's ear and neck area clean. Parents can even use a cotton swab or ball dipped in warm water or peroxide around the ear bud and neck area for maximum cleanliness. Just make sure that none gets inside the ear canal. There's an old saying that still holds true today: "Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your (or your child's) ear!"

Your Child

Brita Recalls Children’s Water Bottles

1:45 to read

Brita is recalling approximately 242,500 children's water filter bottles due to a possible laceration hazard.

The company said Tuesday that the lid of the hard-sided bottles can break into pieces with sharp points.

Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled bottles include a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green bottle with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid.

The bottles are 6 inches tall and hold 15 ounces of liquid. They have fold-up straws and filters that sit inside the straw below the lid.

The removable plastic wrap on the bottle at time of purchase has model number BB07. The following UPC codes were used:

  • 60258-35883 on the Dora the Explorer
  • 60258-35914 on the Hello Kitty
  • 60258-35880 on the SpongeBob Square Pants
  • 60258-35882 on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The bottles were priced between about $13 and $19. They were sold online at Amazon, Target and Drugstore.com. They were sold at stores including Alaska Housewares, Associated Food Stores, Bartell Drug, C Wholesale Grocers, Quidsi, Royal Ahold, Shopko, Target, US Navy Exchange and Walmart.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the bottles and to contact Brita for a postage-paid shipping package to return the bottles for a full refund. Brita can be reached at (800) 926-2065 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Individuals may also visit www.brita.com and click "Safety Recall" for more information.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/brita-recalling-childrens-water-bottles-25032799

Brita water bottle recall

Your Child

It’s Time to Register Your Child for Summer Camp!

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I know, you just got through the holidays and things are beginning to settle down and feel normal again. Guess what? If you’re planning on sending your child to summer camp- you better get busy.

Summer camp registration seems to starts earlier every year.  While the population growth of youngsters has remained pretty steady, the number of children wanting to attend either day camps or overnight camps is increasing. Summer camps fill up quickly and to meet the demand, camps are opening registration much sooner than in years gone by.

Early registration can also save you money. Many camps give a discount for parents who are willing to prepay early.  February looks to be a common open registration month, but some camps are offering online registration now. The most popular camps fill up quickly, so get your checkbook or credit card ready.

Many parents depend on day camps to help cover childcare during the summer months. The range of camps that are available is truly astonishing. I wish I had the choices kids have today when I was little. There are sports camps, science camps, special needs camps, cheerleader camps, arts camps, religious camps, health camps, adventure camps, academic camps – you get the point. If your child has a particular interest, there’s probably a camp that’s just right for him or her.

Not only do camps offer young children a variety of activities during the summer months, they can also offer your teen employment. With over 11 million children heading off to camp this summer, camps need employees. According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 12,000 day and resident camps in the U.S.  Those camps need temporary staff to help run them. If your teen is over 16 years of age, he or she may qualify.

The great thing about your teen working at a summer camp is they can apply at camp that suits their interests. Like music? Apply at a music camp! Summer camp jobs offer wonderful insight into others and while the work may be hard, it’s often very rewarding. Oh, and I forgot, they make their own money too.

Even though the temperatures are still dipping to freezing at night, if you’re planning on letting your child attend summer camp, you might want to start the research and registration now!

 

Your Child

What to Do If Your Child Is Choking

2.30 to read

It’s more common than you probably think. On average over 12,000 children a year, under the age of 14, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for food-related choking. That’s about 34 kids a day according to a new study.

The most common choking hazards appear to be hard candy, followed by other types of candy, then meat and bones. The study noted that most of the young patients were treated and released, but around 10 per cent were hospitalized.

"These numbers are high," said Dr. Gary Smith, who worked on the study at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

What's more, he added, "This is an underestimate. This doesn't include children who were treated in urgent care, by a primary care physician or who had a serious choking incident and were able to expel the food and never sought care."

The estimated 12,435 children ages 14 and younger that were treated for choking on food each year also doesn't include the average 57 pediatric food-choking deaths reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually, the researchers noted.

Smith and his colleagues analyzed injury surveillance data covering 2001 through 2009.

They found that babies one year old and younger accounted for about 38 percent of all childhood ER visits for choking on food. Many of those infants choked on formula or breast milk.

Children who choked on hotdogs, nuts and seeds were the most likely to be hospitalized.

"We know that because hot dogs are the shape and size of a child's airway that they can completely block a child's airway," Smith told Reuters Health, noting that seeds and nuts are also difficult to swallow when children put a lot in their mouths at once.

Supervision is the most important choking prevention. Parents or guardians should make sure that a small child’s food is cut up into manageable bites that can be easily chewed and swallowed. An example might be grapes and raisins. A whole raisin is probably okay to be given to a toddler, but a grape should be sliced.

What should you do if your child is choking?

For children ages 1 to 12:

1. Assess the situation quickly.

If a child is suddenly unable to cry, cough, or speak, something is probably blocking her airway, and you'll need to help her get it out. She may make odd noises or no sound at all while opening her mouth. Her skin may turn bright red or blue.

If she's coughing or gagging, it means her airway is only partially blocked. If that's the case, encourage her to cough. Coughing is the most effective way to dislodge a blockage. If the child isn't able to cough up the object, ask someone to call 911 or the local emergency number as you begin back blows and chest thrusts. If you're alone with the child, give two minutes of care, then call 911.

On the other hand, if you suspect that the child's airway is closed because her throat has swollen shut, call 911 immediately. She may be having an allergic reaction to the food.

Call 911 immediately is your child is turning blue, unconscious or appears to be in severe distress.

2. Try to dislodge the object with back blows and abdominal thrusts.

If a child is conscious but can't cough, talk, or breathe, or is beginning to turn blue, stand or kneel slightly behind him. Provide support by placing one arm diagonally across his chest and lean him forward.
Firmly strike the child between the shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand. Each back blow should be a separate and distinct attempt to dislodge the obstruction.

Give five of these back blows.

Then do abdominal thrusts

Stand or kneel behind the child and wrap your arms around his waist.

Locate his belly button with one or two fingers. Make a fist with the other hand and place the thumb side against the middle of the child's abdomen, just above the navel and well below the lower tip of his breastbone.
Grab your fist with your other hand and give five quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. Each abdominal thrust should be a separate and distinct attempt to dislodge the obstruction.

Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts Continue alternating five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until the object is forced out or the child starts to cough forcefully. If he's coughing, encourage him to cough up the object.

If the child becomes unconscious If a child who is choking on something becomes unconscious, you'll need to do what's called modified CPR. Here's how to do modified CPR on a child:

Place the child on his back on a firm, flat surface. Kneel beside his upper chest. Place the heel of one hand on his sternum (breastbone), at the center of his chest. Place your other hand directly on top of the first hand. Try to keep your fingers off the chest by interlacing them or holding them upward.

Perform 30 compressions by pushing the child's sternum down about 2 inches. Allow the chest to return to its normal position before starting the next compression.

Open the child's mouth and look for an object. If you see something, remove it with your fingers. Next, give him two rescue breaths. If the breaths don't go in (you don't see his chest rise), repeat the cycle of giving 30 compressions, checking for the object, and trying to give two rescue breaths until the object is removed, the child starts to breathe on his own, or help arrives.

A good rule of thumb for parents and guardians is to take a CPR class. Many hospitals and clinics also offer classes on what to do if your child is choking.

Sources: Genevra Pittman, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/29/us-choking-food-idUSBRE96S04K20130729

http://www.babycenter.com/0_first-aid-for-choking-and-cpr-an-illustrated-guide-for-child_11241.bc

 

Your Child

Bullying Leading to PTSD in Some Kids

2.00 to read

Most people probably associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with men and women who have been in battle during war or experienced a traumatic life-changing event such as 9-11.

A new study says that children who are victims of bullying can also suffer from PTSD and the effects can last into adulthood. The study, published by Thormod Idsoe, Atle Dyregrov, and Ella Cosmovici Idsoe, found that about 33 % of bullying victims suffer from PTSD. In addition, 40 to 60 % of adults who have been bullying victims suffer from high levels of the signs of PTSD as well.

PTSD can have a very disruptive effect on one’s daily living. PTSD is a mental health disorder defined by nightmares, severe anxiety, flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, and avoidance behavior.

"Pupils who are constantly plagued by thoughts about or images of painful experiences, and who use much energy to suppress them, will clearly have less capacity to concentrate on schoolwork," Idsoe said in a statement. "Nor is this usually easy to observe - they often suffer in silence."

Researchers at the University of Stavanger, in Norway, analyzed data from 963 students who were 14-15 years old. While boys were more likely to report they were being bullied, they found that girls were more likely to display PTSD symptoms. 

Of the students who reported being bullied, 27.6% of boys and 40.5 % of girls had symptoms of PTSD.  Researchers were not sure why some bullied children suffered from PTSD and some did not. "We...found that those with the worst symptoms were a small group of pupils who, in addition to being victims of bullying, frequently bullied fellow pupils themselves," Idsoe said. "One explanation, for example, could be that difficult earlier experiences make the sufferers more vulnerable, and they thereby develop symptoms and mental health problems more easily."

What are some of the symptoms of PTSD?

-       Reliving the event over and over.

-       Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.

-       Feeling numb or unable to express feelings.

-       Not interested in activities or able to enjoy them.

-       Feeling keyed-up or jittery. Always on the look out for dangerous situations.

Children can experience all the above symptoms or have other symptoms depending on their age.

-       Children age birth to 5 may get upset if their parents are not close by, have trouble sleeping, or suddenly have trouble with toilet training or going to the bathroom.

-        Children age 6 to 11 may act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. Some have nightmares or become more irritable or aggressive. They may also want to avoid school or have trouble with schoolwork or friends.

-        Children age 12 to 18 have symptoms more similar to adults: depression, anxiety, withdrawal, or reckless behavior like substance abuse or running away. 

Many schools are finally beginning to take bullying seriously. They have instituted anti-bullying programs and sometimes provide counseling - although allotted counseling time is often too short.

There are two types of treatments for PTSD, psychotherapy and medications. If your child is experiencing PTSD make sure that you find a therapist trained in pediatric PTSD therapy. PTSD can persist for years in some children and follow-up care is necessary to help your child heal and move forward.  

There are also many excellent online resources for how to deal with bullies and suggestions for what to do if your child is being bullied.

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Psychology.

Sources: http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/13284/20121127/bullying-lead-ptsd-victims.htm#atskrsqZmiFdMBtR.99

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-is-ptsd.asp

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