Parents & teachers ‘have to be more vigilant’ to prevent bullying in schools and online

Insider Louisville LogoFor a significant number of school-age children, heading back to school is a happy time of reuniting with friends, meeting new teachers, and adopting new routines. But for an unfortunate few, it also means coming face-to-face with a most unwelcome sight – the bully.

Dr. Terry Scott is Director of the Center for Instructional and Behavioral Research in Schools at the University of Louisville’s Department of Special Education. He says that bullying in schools may not be more prevalent than it used to be, but social media provides more opportunities for bullies to do damage these days.

“What we’ve found is that if you simply go into a school and tell kids to stop bullying, the bullying tends to go underground,” he says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “And cyber-bullying is a great place for it to go underground because adults aren’t seeing every exchange the kids have.”


Study takes closer look at teens’ mental health, and what parents can do to help

Insider Louisville LogoA recent survey published by Kosair Children’s Hospital showed that 1 in 4 parents is concerned about their children’s mental health. In part, that’s because today’s youth are dealing not just with traditional conflicts such as peer pressure, hormones and puberty, but also with the pressures that come from social media and the availability of information on the internet.

Dr. Kenneth Pearson, a pediatrician with Norton HealthCare, said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville that he often sees children who are bored with life and hopeless. He adds that bullying that takes place online is a difficult thing for a young person to deal with.

“If those kids have a parent without coping skills, then the teen has no one to learn from,” said Dr. Pearson. “And social media plays a role. Social media is making kids less able to interact face-to-face and express their feelings, and pick up body language. Posting vs. in-person interaction is a less effective communication.”

The survey also revealed that 48.9 percent of middle school students reported being bullied at school. And among high school students, 1 in 4 reported feeling sad or hopeless.