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Bullying behavior towards young children and adolescents can occur in schools, neighborhoods and structured group activities, including sports teams or after school programs. While some children manage to avoid harmful negative contacts prompted by their peers, other children suffer repeated verbal abuse, physical assaults, gossip, harassment and/or group rejection. Ultimately this can affect their self esteem and social interactions. Such victims commonly develop symptoms related to depression and anxiety that are not easily observable to teachers and parents or other concerned adults. Family physicians and pediatricians may however carry the role as a child’s trusted and caring support, to help uncover issues related to a child as a victim. They may provide opportunities for a child to open up and share personal problems related to bullying along with other related mental health concerns needing attention. Detecting victimization may be recognized after viewing initial prompts or questionnaires given at intake. The addition of a quantifiable instrument related to bullying may also aid in discerning whether a problem exists. Recognizing symptoms of bullied children provides an opportunity for physicians to further inquire about the emotional impact bullying has on the child. Children and parents should both experience support during this process. The addition of educational resources, group referrals and individual/family counseling should also be recommended with follow ups to review progress.
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