Childhood obesity is a topic of growing interest because it is also a health issue of growing concern.
But what about the even more worrisome issue that population of children with this issue face - the problem of bullying? This is actually a very serious issue for children with obesity and for a number of very significant reasons.
It is an understandable fact that bullying poses a major threat because of the numerous consequences, both short and long-term, that it often influences.
- low self-esteem
- lack of social skill development
Even further, there are several different ways that children with obesity are victimized by bullying - these forms of victimization are experiences that many different children across racial, cultural, gender and socioeconomic category distinctions also face and they include:
- social exclusion
- theft and damage of personal belongings
- physical bullying
- bullying through spreading false rumors and/or slander
- emotional bullying, i.e. verbal attacks
- bullying through being forced or manipulated to do things, or through emotional or physical threats
- racial bullying
- sexual bullying
and additionally a growing epidemic of increasingly threatening intensity is now known well by many as
It is a sad truth that the increasingly serious level of threat that characterizes bullying, in the United States alone, is confirmed by established statistics.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott's Children's Hospital, according to <a href="www.heyugly.org">heyugly.org</a> conducted a study investigating the actual rate of occurrences of bullying against children and children with obesity.
According to the results, 34 percent of teachers reported that children had been bullied, 45 percent of mothers reported that there had been occurrences, while 25 percent of children reported that they had been victims of acts of bullying.
These statistics may sound scary for one area of victimized children, but it sadly does not end at that level.
It is unfortunate to find that, on a broader scale, the national rates of bullying incidents make this expanding epidemic appear even more alarming.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 160,000 students in the United States alone stay home from school - because they are actually afraid of being bullied.
This amount, when calculated according to each month every year - totals roughly over 3 million kids! And in addition to that frightening truth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still officially reports that suicide is the leading cause of death of youth and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24 years.
It would not be an assumption to suggest or believe that bullying is at least a greater factor of significant contribution to this fatal consequence.
One of the more important truths related to the growing epidemic of bullying, and bullying of children with obesity in particular, is just a minimal amount of the vast long-term consequences related to overall health and development that bullying can influence.
Children who are bullied, once again, are automatically more susceptible to mental health problems and associated behaviors like depression and anxiety as well as eating disorders.
But what about the possibility that the greater problem with bullying could continue to be a source of aggravation of obesity? What if occurrences of bullying, as long as they continue to take place and increase in frequency - could be a primary contributor to increasingly severe problems with obesity, and more severe health problems of children overall?
The development and health of children is fueled by both natural characteristics, as well as the environment and people in that outside world. Children are capable of developing and growing positively on their own - and are also able to be influenced and enhanced according to what happens in that environment around them.
It is important that those people closest to individual children, and certainly children who have any specific needs like concerns related to obesity, take advantage of resources to defend and teach the children under their care - in order to influence the greater likelihood of their continous health and progress.
Parents should regularly engage in healthy educational and recreational activities with their children, modeling those healthy behaviors in daily life, as should teachers and adults in any position of authority or responsibility.
There are also a number of actions that parents and caretakers can continue to take to act as social advocates for children with needs and who might even possibly be targets of any abuse, both in the present and for the possible future.
Parents could contact and regularly communicate with teachers and principals. Mental health counselors and school counselors, who sometimes may consult with teachers and school administrators, could also offer their individual and group services to a lot of children as they are asked to get involved by providing assistance.
There is also immediate availability of reputable resources with more information, which include, and are still not limited to:
The National Institute of Health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The American Academy of Pediatrics
Of course this topic could not be completely covered without consideration of even a minimal amount of the helpful resources in Hattiesburg, available in humanitarian organizations, that encourage educational and health-promoting action through community involvement as well as advocacy.
United Way of Southeast Mississippi consists of various subsidiary organizations, such as Hattiesburg branches of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys And Girls Club, which offer various activities of emotional and educational assistance for children and adolescents - not to mention numerous volunteer and community advocacy opportunities for parents, caretakers and other influential adults.
Parents and all general adults should stay informed and educated about what happens to and influences the children around them - bullying may be a growing problem, but like any concern or interference with good health and well-being, change is always possible. The more educated that those of influence remain, the greater the likelihood that positively influential action can be taken to make necessary improvement a reality.