(CBSDETROIT)– With a new school year underway, students have a lot to worry about: Getting good grades, making friends and hoping they won’t be the victims of bullies. Despite increased public awareness of the problem, local anti-bullying experts say the numbers are still staggering.
“So it’s a real fear for kids going back to school,” said Dr. Marlene Seltzer, Medical Director of Beaumont Hospital’s NOBLE program, which stands for No Bullying, Live Empowered. “How they’ll be treated. What to do do if someone does say something to them or is mean to them. Will it make it worse if they do tell someone about it. All those fears are very real,” said Seltzer.
Dr. Seltzer says any child can be the victim of a bully. But there are certain groups that are more likely to be targeted.
“LGBTQ kids are very much at risk,” said Seltzer. “Appearance is the most common reason kids are being bullied. “Obesity is also a risk factor. Obese kids are 63 per cent more likely to be bullied than their normal weight peers,” said Seltzer.
Dr. Seltzer stresses that kids who are being bullied need to understand that they should not be afraid to tell an adult.
“That is probably the most important thing. Certainly they can try to handle the problem on their own, if they feel comfortable. But if it persists,” said Dr. Seltzer,” if it starts to affect their ability to attend school, if they have physical symptoms, telling an adult can be the difference between the problem stopping and not.”
How can you tell if your child is the victim of a bully? Dr. Seltzer says parents should be on the lookout for any change in their child’s behavior.
“Any change in mood or behavior. Any possessions missing or damaged. Not wanting to go to school. All of a sudden headaches or stomaches. Moodiness when your child is normally very happy.”
To get more information on the NOBLE program, go here.