The Role of Health Care Providers
Bullying has many health implications including mental health issues, psychosomatic complaints of stomach pain, headaches, sleep problems and general school avoidance behaviors.
In addition, students who are bullied may experience short-term or long-term symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Healthcare providers should be aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on the Role of Pediatricians in Youth Violence Prevention.30
Healthcare providers should:
- Inquire about bullying as a component of a routine well-child visit.
- Ask a child with a physical injury (such as a sprain, strain, bruise, fracture, abdominal blunt force injury, etc.) if someone intentionally harmed him or her.
- Discuss social relationships and peer interaction with young patients as a part of the routine check-ups or if children describe school avoidance behaviors.
- Follow up with children who indicate that they have been harmed, teased, targeted online or excluded by peers to determine if there is evidence of peer abuse or bullying. Help parents access useful resources described in this toolkit.
- Be prepared to advise parents of a child who is experiencing health concerns related to bullying about effective ways to help their child.
- Make appropriate referrals to ensure that the child and family receive psychosocial support in addition to any medical treatment that may be warranted if a child involved in bullying is also experiencing mental health issues.
- Be an advocate in your community for the use of effective bullying prevention strategies and support educational outreach efforts.