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Watch out for the toll bullying takes

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s
Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Carolyn Ievers-Landis, PhD

Carolyn Ievers-Landis, PhD

From healing scraped knees with bandages, bruises with kisses and the common cold with TLC, you always do everything you can to protect your children. Unfortunately, if someone is bullying your child, it can feel like there’s not much you can do. Unlike scrapes and bruises that quickly heal, bullying can have long-lasting effects.

Bullying may lead to depression

Watch out for the toll bullying takes

Adolescents who are bullied are more likely to develop depression as teenagers, according to research in the journal BMJ. In the study of nearly 7,000 participants, adolescents who were frequently bullied were twice as likely to be depressed by age 18 compared with those who never experienced bullying.

What you can do

Bullying 101

Talking with your children about bullying can help them curb or defend against such behavior, advises the American Psychological Association. Dr. Ievers-Landis offers these suggestions:

  • Help brainstorm solutions, discussing the pros and cons of each. Then, create a plan together.
  • Rehearse possible responses to the bully, such as remaining calm and looking confident.
  • Encourage travel to and from school and other places with a group of friends.

Download “Say NO Bullying.” Visit to download an anti-bullying book developed by Dr. Ievers-Landis and other experts in bullying.

While you hope your teen would tell you if someone is bullying him or her, the reality is that many teens keep it to themselves. The study found that up to 74 percent of teenagers never told their teachers and 51 percent never told their parents that they were victims of bullying.

Still, there are signs you can watch for that may indicate your child is being bullied or experiencing depression because of it. They include:

  • Feeling sad or lonely
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Loss of interest in activities he or she normally enjoys
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Frequently missing or skipping school

“If you notice any of these signs, talk with your child about what you’re observing,” advises Carolyn Ievers-Landis, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “Listen to your child and let him or her know you want to help. Consider seeking help from a school counselor, psychologist or other mental health professional, especially if you feel your child is experiencing anxiety or depression.”

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