When I was young, I had some run-ins at school with bullies. It was very hard at the time, and I remember going home every afternoon for a while, crying to my mom about it. Lucky for me, it didn't last long, and I didn't grow up at a time where kids could be bullied in so many different ways- at school, on Facebook or through other social media outlets.
Bullying is such a serious issue these days that many kids feel the need to fit in so that they don't stand out from the rest. For some, it's important to look like all of their friends (not too heavy, not too thin), get grades like their friends (not too high, not too low) and have the same extracurricular interests. I can't imagine being under that kind of pressure. A recent study shows that children who are overweight are not only more likely to have health issues later in life, but are also more likely to be bullied.
The study, presented the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care, looked at a sample of over 8,000 9-year olds from Ireland's National Longitudinal Study of Children. Children completed surveys at school and were also interviewed at home with their families. Researchers found that overweight or obese children were more likely to be bullied and more likely to have chronic health issues that follow them into adulthood.
Honestly, these results aren't surprising. I guess the bigger question is how we get children to accept differences in each other instead of making them feel bad that they don't look or act like everyone else. How do we teach children to love their bodies no matter how they look, when they get conflicting messages at school, in the media and everywhere else they turn?
Have you or your children had experiences with bullying, particularly because of weight issues? How did you handle that?
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