[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 3-May-2010
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Contact: Susan Martin
ssmartin@aap.org
847-434-7877
American Academy of Pediatrics

Parental involvement key to preventing child bullying

Getting to know friends, helping with homework are among the things parents can do to decrease the likelihood that their child will become a bully

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA Communities across the United States are developing programs to address child bullying. New research shows that parents can play an important role in preventing their children from becoming bullies in the first place.

"Improving parent-child communication and parental involvement with their children could have a substantial impact on child bullying," said Rashmi Shetgiri, MD, MSHS, lead author of a study to be presented Monday, May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Dr. Shetgiri, a pediatrician and researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Among the questions asked of 45,897 parents with children 10-17 years old was whether their child bullies or is cruel or mean to others. Researchers then identified factors that increased or reduced the risk of a child being a bully.

Results showed the prevalence of bullying was 15 percent. Factors increasing the risk included race, emotional/behavioral problems and mothers' mental health.

African-American and Latino children had a higher likelihood of being bullies compared to white children. In addition, children with emotional, developmental or behavioral problems and those whose mothers reported having less than "very good" mental health also were more likely to be bullies. Other parental characteristics that increased the likelihood of child bullying were getting angry with their child frequently and feeling that their child often did things to bother them.

There also were factors that decreased the likelihood that a child will become a bully. Older children, those living in a home where the primary language spoken is not English and those who consistently did their homework were less likely to be bullies.

Parents also played a protective role. Those who shared ideas and talked with their child, and those who met most of their child's friends were less likely to have children who bully.

"Parents can also work with health care providers to make sure any emotional or behavioral concerns they have about their child, as well as their own mental health, are addressed," Dr. Shetgiri said. "Lastly, parents can take advantage of parenting programs that can help them become aware of and manage negative feelings, such as anger, and respond to their child in a non-aggressive manner."

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To see the abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_1908&terms

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.

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