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Bullying among Child and Adolescents: a Unaddressed Public Health Problem

Bullying among Child and Adolescents: a Unaddressed Public Health Problem

Epidemiology and Definition

Bullying among child and adolescents is an important public health problem globally but unfolded appropriately in Bangladesh. Previous research revealed at least one third children are affected by bullying in the form of bullies, victims and bully victims with its short and long term consequences. The most accepted definition of bulling describes bulling as “intentional, repeated, negative (unpleasant or hurtful) behavior by one or more persons directed against a person who has difficulty defending himself or herself” and it encompasses “a physical, verbal, or psychological attack or intimidation; an actual or perceived power imbalance between the perpetrator(s) or victim(s); an intent to cause fear, and/or harm to the victim; and repeatedly producing the desired effect”.

Types of bulling

Physical bullying encompasses activities like hitting, pushing, kicking, choking, and snatching something from others. Verbal bullying encompasses harassment or intimidation in the form of name-calling, threatening, taunting, malicious teasing, and psychological intimidation using words. Indirect bullying mostly expressed as relational aggression, such as social exclusion of victims by manipulating the social influences or injuring the reputation of the victims, gossiping, slandering, sabotage, and convincing peers to exclude victims. Cyber bullying is a newly emerging bully which encompasses threatening, harassing, taunting, and/or intimidating a peer using an electronic medium, such as computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Direct physical bullying usually has its peak in middle school, then decrease, whereas verbal bullying may continue to be elevated throughout high school. Relational bullying is more common among girls and can lead to feelings of rejection at a critical time in social development.

Bulling Profiles

Bullies are psychologically, socially stronger; involved in bullying to gain or maintain dominance in their peer group and may have a positive attitude toward violence.  Boys are more likely to be involved as bullies and are more likely to manifest defiant behavior. The victims are usually passive or submissive victims; may be physically smaller, less assertive, more anxious, insecure, or sensitive than bullies; may have lower self-esteem, may have the lowest social status among peers. Bully-victims are those who bully others and are bullied themselves; they also are known as reactive bullies or aggressive victims.

Effects & Factors of bulling

Bullies, victims, and bully-victims are at risk of developing negative health outcomes in both  short and long-term such as depression, anxiety, low self- esteem, and delinquency, physical and psychosomatic symptoms, or borderline personality symptoms, self-harm, poor academic achievement, and physical features, such as being overweight, personality characteristics, aggression, antisocial  personality, criminality  and  substance  abuse,  poor sleep quality, bad dreams, poor quality of health, suicidal ideation and  suicide.

Bullying Reduction

Multilateral and multidimensional involvements are necessary for bulling reduction. School based interventions can play significant roles as well as parents, social workers, health care professionals have important roles in reduction of bulling as well as its effects.  Regular screening for bulling effects of the potential bullies or victims; providing counseling and resources, and advocating for bullying prevention may improve the overall scenario. Very important part is the proper awareness regarding the bulling.


Bullying is a global threat to both physical and mental health of the child and adolescents and Bangladesh is not an exception. Appropriate evidence based measures need to be taken with multilateral collaboration of clinicians, public health experts, policy makers, parents, school health teams and others such stake holders.

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