Bullying Concerns for Children with IBD

  • Bullying is a huge hot button issue in this country right now.  Parents with children who have medical issues often report incidences of their child being bullied based on their medical condition.  The food allergic child being chased by a kid with a trigger food or the asthmatic child being made fun of for wheezing are all examples of this medically based bullying.  Forty-five percent of parents who have children with IBD also report being concerned about their child being bullied (1).

    According to the National Institutes of Health,  bullies don't tend to have low self-esteem.  They tend to have higher self-esteem and make friends quite easily.  Many bullies look for children who are smaller, weaker, passive or more sensitive.  Unfortunately, this description can often fit a child who is dealing with a chronic illness (2). 

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    Educating the teacher regarding your child's illness is key.  For kids with IBD, it can help to have a discrete way for your child to be allowed to use the restroom or let the teacher know they are feeling poorly.  A school nurse can also be a good resource for these tools.

    It is important to discuss your concerns about bullying with your child's teachers or principal.  Most schools have an anti-bullying program in place, but they need to know from the beginning that you will not tolerate any such issues.  An open line of communication with your child can help you to identify if there is bullying going on.  Be aware that a large amount of bullying can also be going on online.  Make it your business to know what your child is doing with their screen time.

    If your child is already being bullied, it is very important to address how the bullying has affected them.  Some children can become very distraught and may even require treatment for depression when bullying is severe.  The ramifications of being bullied vary from child to child, but they are never positive.  So, stay informed through the school, talk to your child and know who they are talking to and get help when needed.  Sometimes it is a matter of life and death.

Published On: October 07, 2014