Bullying: How to Spot It, and How to Respond
AmeriHealth Caritas offers tips for parents during National Bullying Prevention Month
Philadelphia, Pa. — A study published in School Psychology Review found that nearly half of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied by other students at least once during the previous month.1 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that, because of increasing awareness of this problem, it can seem that bullying is becoming even more prevalent. But at the very least, it remains prevalent in schools and communities throughout the country,2 and it can be very harmful to victims’ physical and mental health.3
“Bullying behavior tends to peak in middle school years, but it can happen at any age,” says Dr. Michael Golinkoff of AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in health care solutions for those most in need. “Victims of bullying may be reluctant to inform their parents or others. So it is important for parents to be observant for signs that their child may be getting bullied and respond accordingly.”
According to Dr. Golinkoff, the following behaviors may suggest that a child is being bullied:
- Acting out of character.
- Attempting to avoid school, including through physical complaints with no clear medical cause.
- Unusual eating or sleeping patterns.
- A sudden drop in grades.
- child is missing items such as lunch money or small valuables.
“The most important advice for a child who is being bullied is to help them develop assertiveness skills and conflict resolution skills,” says Dr. Golinkoff. “This includes standing up for their beliefs and ignoring negativity directed towards them. Role playing exercises can help children learn how to take a stand against an aggressor.”
Other actions that Dr. Golinkoff recommends to address bullying include:
- Avoiding being alone with the bully.
- Helping the child express emotions and perspectives in a clear and concise manner.
- Identifying adults involved in the child’s life who have the training and the background to carry out effective conflict resolution strategies, and whose involvement will not make the situation worse.
About AmeriHealth Caritas
AmeriHealth Caritas is part of the Independence Health Group in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. AmeriHealth Caritas is one of the nation’s leaders in health care solutions for those most in need. Operating in 15 states and the District of Columbia, AmeriHealth Caritas serves approximately 5.3 million Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and specialty pharmacy services, behavioral health services, and other administrative services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. For more information, visit www.amerihealthcaritas.com.
- Bradshaw, C.P.; Sawyer, A.L.; and O’Brennan, L.M. (2007). Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff. School Psychology Review, 36(3), 361-382.
- Stopbullying.gov — Facts About Bullying. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017. https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html
- Stopbullying.gov — Effects of Bullying. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2017). https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/effects/index.html
- Bullying Resource Center. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, October 2017. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/Bullying_Resource_Center/Home.aspx