Name calling can be worst kind of bullying

HARRIET HAMILTONsummit daily news

A 2005 study by UCLA researchers of sixth-graders in two Los Angeles-area public schools found almost half reported being bullied by classmates during a five-day period.”Bullying is a problem that large numbers of kids confront on a daily basis at school,” Jaana Juvonen, UCLA professor of psychology, and co-author of the study said. “It’s not just an issue for the few unfortunate ones.” Juvonen went on to say she and her colleagues were surprised at the number of children who reported at least one incident. The authors definition of “bullying” included name calling, making fun of others, spreading nasty rumors and physical aggression. They found verbal harassment was more than twice as common as physical bullying.”Our data show that children are emotionally affected on the days they get picked on, regardless of whether it’s ‘harmless’ name calling or joking around,” Juvonen said. “The kids reported feeling humiliated, anxious or disliking school on days when they reported incidents, which shows there is no such thing as ‘harmless’ name calling or an ‘innocent’ punch.”The researchers advocate school policies targetting all forms of harassment, including name calling.”We find no support for the idea that verbal harassment is less hurtful in causing emotional distress than physical aggression,” Adrienne Nishina, postdoctoral scholar at UCLA’s Graduate School of Educational and Informations Studies and co-author of the study, said.The National Association of School Psychologists, in Bethesda, Md., agrees. In its Helping Children at Home And School publication it emphasizes how easy it is for adults to ignore the stress children can experience from name calling and other verbal teasing. When children express hurt, it often encourages the behavior because the name caller has elicited a reaction. Children have a hard time hiding their hurt emotions. So adults trying to help by saying “just ignore it” can make children feel even more helpless, hurt and lonely.The UCLA study found many children are hesitant to discuss bullying incidents, and may instead visit the school nurse. Bullied students often suffer from headaches, colds and other physical and psychological problems.”If your child doesn’t want to go to school and is complaining about headaches, there may be other visits needed than to the doctor’s offce,” Nishina said. “Take their concerns seriously. Don’t minimize your child’s concerns.”

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