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LGBTQ Teens: Parents Can Help Prevent, Stop Bullying

By Dr. Noelle Gabriel, Tidewater Children's Associates

Bullying is a serious problem that can cause lifelong problems for any child.

If your son or daughter is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ), it’s important to understand that they are more likely to experience bullying than their heterosexual peers, research shows.

Years ago, bullying was typically something kids experienced on the playground, in the classroom, or on the school bus when adults weren’t looking. Today, bullying can happen anywhere and any time your child has access to text messaging and social media. Some bullies use popular smartphone apps to send anonymous, hateful messages that disappear once they’ve been viewed.

No matter where or how it occurs, all forms of bullying can cause victims to have physical illness, low self-esteem, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Many LGBTQ youth thrive during adolescence. However, they are more likely to be targeted by bullies because they belong to a stigmatized group. Studies show that youth who are repeatedly bullied may blame themselves and, as a result, develop symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Consider these recent statistics from the CDC: Nearly one-third of LGBTQ youth are bullied at school or online. Additionally, more than 47 percent of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide.

As a parent, there are many things you can do to help protect your child from being bullied, according to the AAP.

Talk to your child.

You can often find out if your child is being bullied by asking them general questions about their school day and what they think of the other kids in their class. Most children can easily identify troublemakers.

Teach your child how to stay safe.

Does your child know what to do if someone is bothering them? Although it’s hard to practice at first, it’s important for children to learn how to stay calm, look a bully in the eye, and tell them to stop their behavior.

Teach your child to ask for help.

Many kids don’t want to tell an adult they’re being bullied out of fear or embarrassment. Make sure your child knows it’s okay to ask for help. Teachers and school administrators can help stop bullying.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you think bullying is undermining your child’s mental or physical health. Seeking help early may prevent a child from having any long-term consequences.

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.