Study: Bullying Begins Before Kids Start School

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from CBS Houston,

A new study finds that obese boys are more likely to bully and be bullied than their thinner peers before they even start school.

“I was very surprised by how young these kids are,” Rachel Annuziato, an assistant professor for clinical psychology at Fordham University in New York City, told HealthDay. “I think our understanding of bullying is that it’s something that starts a little later cognitively and developmentally, but this suggests that isn’t the case. From the day kids walk into school, this is a concern.”

The average age in this study, which was published in the online journal Pediatrics, was 6.

Past research focused on older kids so researchers believed that bullying was a learned behavior from other kids. Annuziato says that these findings imply kids are learning this behavior outside of school.

“Kids who are being picked on might start to think this is the way to fit in, to pick on other kids,” Annuziato suggested. “That becomes their way to assert themselves after they’ve experienced bullying.

Susan Tortolero, a professor of public health at the University of Texas School of Public Health believes the link between being a bully and a victim of bullying may also offer clues to the link between bullying and obesity.

“A lot of these risk behaviors may have to do with self-regulation, self-discipline, and decision-making, which gets into the executive functioning of the brain,” Tortolero told HealthDay. “It could be that poor coping is going on here, too. They could be expressing aggression because they’re being bullied and they don’t know how to cope with it or express it.”

Researchers also suggested that being overweight or obese can lead to social problems among children because they have difficulty managing their emotions.

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