Bullying is a common problem for primary school and high school aged children. In Australia about 10% of children report being bullied at primary school. The problem is that bullied children can go on to suffer from low self-esteem, drug abuse and depression as adults. Now there is research that shows that obese children are at increased risk of bullying
A study in Canada (which has a similar school system to Australia) showed that overweight and obese children were at increased risk of several types of bullying.
Overweight or obese children are more likely to be teased by other children verbally (e.g. name-calling), physically bullied and have difficulty because other children stop being friends with them or spread rumours about them.
A Western Australian study confirmed that overweight or obese children are more likely to be bullied than normal or underweight children. Other children may judge overweight kids with a negative stereotype and associate them with being lazy, selfish and mean because of the way that they look.
Obese children are also more likely to be the perpetrators of verbal bullying to other children. By bullying other kids, overweight or obese children may divert attention away from being bullied themselves.
Recognising the signs of bullying in a child is an important step in breaking the chain of negative outcomes. Some signs to be aware of include; increased stress, depression, unexplained bruising, recurrent abdominal pain and vomiting, frequent or repeated accidents, hyperventilation, submissive behaviour and school refusal.