All parents worry about whether their kids are getting along with their peers at school. Our health expert and mom of three, Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, shares how to recognize bullying and stop it. Melendez is director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Rose Melendez

How common is bullying?

Nurse Rose: Unfortunately, about 28 percent of kids in grades six to 12 say they’ve experienced bullying, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

What kinds of health problems can arise from being bullied?

Nurse Rose: We all know bullying can make a child upset or nervous to go to school, but now we’re seeing that bullying can have real health consequences. You might notice these health, academic and psychological problems in children who are bullied.

  • Anxiety
  • Backaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomachaches
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Self-harm

How can a parent tell if his or her child is being bullied at school?

Nurse Rose: We can’t be with our kids 24/7, and many are reluctant to tell on their classmates or peers. These signs could mean your child is being bullied.

  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, electronics or other valuables
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Declining grades or loss of interest in school
  • Feeling helpless or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive or harmful behaviors

What should parents do if they suspect bullying?

Nurse Rose: If you suspect your child is being bullied, ask your child what’s bothering them, making sure to listen and focus on the child. You should:

  • Give advice about what to do when bullied.
  • Work together with your child, school or organization to remove the child from the unsafe situation.
  • Follow-up with the child and school or organization.

If signs of distress persist, offer your child help from a school counselor, pediatrician or psychologist

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.