Many children experience the unfortunate effects of bullying. But teasing and bullying of children with chronic health conditions — such as asthma — is even more common.
But it hasn’t always been clear why kids pick on other kids with such health concerns. New research points to some factors associated with this kind of bullying.
Researchers from the UK Derbyshire Children’s Hospital used data from the large six-country “Room to Breathe” survey of childhood asthma to look at the factors associated with an increased risk of bullying.
The scientists interviewed 943 parents with children aged 7 years and older. The research questionnaires asked about conditions at home, the lifestyle of the parents and children, and their overall experience of their health condition.
The study concluded there are a number of potential risk factors associated with an increased risk of bullying and teasing.
These factors include a reduced participation with sports, and general feelings of sadness in the child.
The researchers also found that poor asthma control, parental smoking, and parents’ on-going worries about their child’s health were also associated with an increased risk for bullying.
“Our findings emphasize the need for doctors and nurses to speak to their patients about the effects their condition has on all aspects of their life,” noted Dr. Will Carroll, from the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital. “We know that bullying is associated with asthma and these findings can help us understand why this is case.”
“A number of the factors identified are things that can be changed, such as participation in sport, asthma control and parental worry over their child’s health.”
“When you have a child with exercise-induced asthma it can be really hard to get them to participate,” said David Supple, the parent of an asthma sufferer. “You can be scared to push them – but the health and social benefits far outweigh the fear, and can help build a lifetime of confidence against bullying.”
The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Vienna yesterday.
Source: European Lung Foundation