1. Study looks at effect of bad advice about workplace bullying

    May 25, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Iowa State University press release:

    Targets of workplace bullying get plenty of advice from coworkers and family on how to respond to the situation and make it stop. While well intentioned, much of the advice victims receive is impractical or only makes their situation worse, said Stacy Tye-Williams, an assistant professor of communication studies and English at Iowa State University.

    “If you haven’t experienced bullying, you don’t understand it and it is hard to imagine what you actually would do in the situation,” Tye-Williams said.

    Still, that doesn’t stop people from offering advice. Friends and family do so because they want to be helpful, Tye-Williams said. In a paper published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research, Tye-Williams and Kathleen Krone, a co-author and professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, interviewed nearly 50 employees who were being bullied at the time or had been bullied in the past. The most common advice the employees received — quit your job.

    Tye-Williams says not only is quitting an unreasonable option financially, but several targets of bullying felt they had done nothing wrong and should not have to leave a job they enjoy. They expressed a “sense of moral justification” and were willing to take the abuse, not to let the bully win. Choosing to suffer silently rarely improved the situation for the target, Tye-Williams said.

    In the paper, researchers shared the following response from a woman who had invested 20 years in her job and was the target of bullying.

    “I’ve worked really, really hard, and why should I have to give up a job that I was good in because of…the unprofessional way that somebody else was behaving? I just didn’t feel it was fair,” the woman told researchers.

    Researchers found some common themes among the advice victims received. These were the top five recommendations:

    • Quit or get out of the situation — 27 percent
    • Ignore it or blow it off — 23 percent
    • Fight or stand up to the bully — 17 percent
    • Stay calm — 10 percent
    • Report the bullying — 10 percent

    A small percentage of victims were also told to “punch the bully” or to “quit making things up.”

    Victims would offer same bad advice

    Many victims feared retaliation or further humiliation if they directly confronted the bully, and lacking a better option, they did nothing about the abuse. Despite the bad advice, most victims said they would tell others in their situation to do the same thing. This was initially puzzling to researchers, but Tye-Williams says it soon became clear that victims lacked insight into strategies that were helpful for dealing with workplace bullies.

    “Targets really felt stuck and didn’t know what to do about the bullying. They repeated the same advice even though they felt it would not have worked for them, or if they did follow the advice it made the situation worse,” Tye-Williams said. “It became clear how important it is to help targets understand alternative approaches to addressing bullying.”

    Developing a method or model for responding to workplace bullying must start with an open dialogue, in which people can share what has worked for them and brainstorm creative or different solutions, Tye-Williams said. An important start is to develop advice that is more useful, and disseminate stories in which targets successfully managed their situation. The best thing family members, friends, and colleagues can do is to simply listen without judgment to help targets work through available options, she said.

    Dismissing emotion causes more harm

    Employees shared very emotional accounts of the bullying they suffered, and strongly reacted when coworkers or friends told them not to cry or get upset. Telling a victim to calm down or conceal their emotion minimizes the experience and is not helpful, Tye-Williams said. She describes it as “really strange advice” given how some of these people were treated.

    “To me it would be abnormal for someone to be treated in this way and have no emotional reaction,” Tye-Williams said. “Telling victims to calm down does a lot of damage. When we’re talking about traumatic work experiences, it’s important to allow people to have a space to express their very normal emotions.”

    Researchers found that some victims, when told to calm down, tended to shut down and stop talking about the abuse and suffer silently. That’s why it’s necessary to provide victims with a safe space to openly talk about the situation and feel that their voice is being heard, Tye-Williams said. Through this research, she found going to a supervisor or human resources manager did not guarantee victims were taken seriously and the problem would be corrected.

    Tye-Williams says the lack of managerial response or resolution is another example of the complexity in handling workplace bullying. Part of the complexity is trying to develop a rational, logical response to what is often an irrational situation. In many cases, managers expected employees to resolve the situation on their own, which was not a reasonable expectation, she said.

    “Management is not always good about helping people navigate a conflict to reach a resolution. They don’t want to get involved, they expect employees to figure it out or that it’ll blow over,” Tye-Williams said. “It’s not that managers don’t want to be helpful, they often just don’t know how to be helpful.”

    Understanding that common pieces of advice to combat workplace bullying often don’t work may help managers, coworkers, family members and friends move beyond “canned advice” and develop more appropriate alternatives to addressing bullying, she added.


  2. Bullying’s lasting impact

    May 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Delaware press release:

    A new study led by the University of Delaware found that kids who are bullied in fifth grade often suffer from depression and begin using alcohol and other substances a few years after the incidents.

    “Students who experienced more frequent peer victimization in fifth grade were more likely to have greater symptoms of depression in seventh grade, and a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade,” said the study’s leader, Valerie Earnshaw, a social psychologist and assistant professor in UD’s College of Education and Human Development.

    The study involved researchers from universities and hospitals in six states, who analyzed data collected between 2004 and 2011 from 4,297 students on their journey from fifth through tenth grade. The findings were published online in the medical journal Pediatrics.

    The students were from Birmingham, Alabama; Houston, Texas; and Los Angeles County, California. Forty-four percent were Latino, 29 percent were African American and 22 percent were white.

    Although peer victimization is common during late childhood and early adolescence and appears to be associated with increased substance use, few studies have examined these associations longitudinally — meaning that data is gathered from the same subjects repeatedly over several years — or point to the psychological processes whereby peer victimization leads to substance use.

    “We show that peer victimization in fifth grade has lasting effects on substance use five years later. We also show that depressive symptoms help to explain why peer victimization is associated with substance use, suggesting that youth may be self-medicating by using substances to relieve these negative emotions,” Earnshaw said.

    Impacts and interventions

    Peer victimization leads to substance use, and substance use can harm adolescent development with implications for health throughout the lifespan, Earnshaw said. Alcohol and marijuana use may interfere with brain development and can lead to injuries. Tobacco use may lead to respiratory illness, cancer and early death.

    “Youth who develop substance use disorders are at risk of many mental and physical illnesses throughout life,” Earnshaw said. “So, the substance use that results from peer victimization can affect young people throughout their lives.”

    Among the study’s findings, boys, sexual minority youth and youth living with chronic illness reported more frequent peer victimization in fifth grade. Age, obesity, race/ethnicity, household educational achievement and family income were not related to more frequent peer victimization.

    Twenty-four percent of tenth graders in the study reported recent alcohol use, 15.2 percent reported marijuana use, and 11.7 percent reported tobacco use. Sexual minority status was more strongly related to alcohol use among girls than boys; it was also related to marijuana and tobacco use among girls but not boys.

    Earnshaw used structural equation modeling — a form of statistical analysis — to examine the multiple variables across time and to test if there were relationships among them. She started working with the data in summer 2015 and finalized the model in fall 2016 in her office in UD’s Alison Hall.

    An expert in stigma research, Earnshaw wants to understand why people treat other people poorly and how this poor treatment leads to poor health, including through substance use behaviors. She hopes this latest study will enlighten pediatricians, teachers, parents — anyone in a position to help students facing peer aggression.

    “We urge pediatricians to screen youth for peer victimization, symptoms of depression and substance use,” says Earnshaw. “These doctors can offer counsel to youth and recommendations to parents and youth for approaching teachers and school staff for support. Moreover, youth experiencing depressive symptoms and substance use should be offered treatment when needed.”

    The research team’s messages also extend to teachers.

    Peer victimization really matters, and we need to take it seriously — this echoes the messages educators already have been receiving,” Earnshaw says. “This study gives some additional evidence as to why it’s important to intervene. It also may give teachers insight into why students are depressed or using substances in middle and high school.”


  3. Study suggests bullies and their victims more likely to want plastic surgery

    May 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Warwick press release:

    School bullies and their victims are more likely to want cosmetic surgery, according to new research by the University of Warwick.

    Professor Dieter Wolke — and colleagues in the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School — have discovered that teenagers who are affected by bullying in any way have a greater desire than others to change their bodies by going under the knife.

    Almost 2800 adolescents — aged 11 to 16 — in UK secondary schools were screened for their involvement in bullying, through self and peer assessment.

    A sample group of around 800 adolescents — including bullies, victims, those who both bully and are bullied, and those who are unaffected by bullying — was analysed for emotional problems, levels of self-esteem and body-esteem, and the extent of their desire to have plastic surgery.

    They were asked to complete established questionnaires — such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Acceptance of Cosmetic Surgery Scale.

    The results showed that adolescents involved in bullying in any role were more interested in cosmetic surgery, compared to those uninvolved in bullying. Desire for cosmetic surgery was highest in victims of bullying, but was also increased in bullying perpetrators.

    11.5% of bullying victims have an extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4% of bullies, and 8.8% of teenagers who both bully and are bullied — this is compared with less than 1% of those who are unaffected by bullying.

    Girls want to go under the knife more than boys. Of the sample group, 7.3% of girls had an extreme wish to have plastic surgery, compared with 2% of boys.

    The researchers state that perpetrators of bullying want to have plastic surgery to improve their appearance and increase their social status.

    Victims of bullying, on the other hand, want to go under the knife because their psychological functioning is affected by being picked on — giving them lower self-esteem, more emotional problems and a desire to change their appearance.

    Between 2014 and 2015, 15.9 million surgical and minimally invasive procedures were performed in the United States. Almost 230,000 of those procedures were performed on 13-19 year olds.

    Rates of cosmetic surgery are similarly increasing in the United Kingdom and across the world.

    Young people could have less of a desire for plastic surgery if mental health issues arising from bullying are addressed, according to the authors.

    The researchers suggest that cosmetic surgeons screen potential patients for a history of bullying, and any related psychological issues.

    Professor Wolke and his co-authors comment:

    “Being victimized by peers resulted in poor psychological functioning, which increased desire for cosmetic surgery. For bullies, cosmetic surgery may simply be another tactic to increase social status […] to look good and achieve dominance.

    “The desire for cosmetic surgery in bullied adolescents is immediate and long-lasting.

    “Our results suggest that cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying.”

    The research, ‘Adolescent Desire for Cosmetic Surgery: Associations with Bullying and Psychological Functioning’, is published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.


  4. Study suggests bullies and victims tend to be more preoccupied with weight-loss

    April 12, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Warwick press release:

    School bullies and their victims are more obsessed with weight-loss than anyone else, according to new research by the University of Warwick.

    Professor Dieter Wolke and Dr Kirsty Lee, in the Department of Psychology, discovered that teenagers who are involved in bullying in any way — from bullies, to their victims, to those who both bully and get bullied — are more likely to develop concerns about their eating and exercise behaviours, and become preoccupied with losing weight.

    Almost 2800 adolescents in UK secondary schools were screened for involvement in bullying, through self and peer assessment.

    A sample of those involved in bullying — around 800 teenagers — was analysed for eating and exercise thoughts and behaviours, self-esteem levels, body image and emotional wellbeing.

    They were asked to complete established questionnaires — such as Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults, and the eating behaviours component of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment.

    Results from these tests showed that 42% of bullies have extreme preoccupation with weight-loss, as well as 55% of bullying victims, and 57% of teens who both bully and are bullied. This is compared with adolescents who have no involvement with bullying — 35% of those are obsessed with losing weight.

    The researchers say that bullies are preoccupied with weight-loss because they are driven by the desire to be the most attractive, strongest and fittest.

    Victims of bullying suffer from reduced psychological functioning due to being picked on — causing weight-loss obsession, chronically low self-esteem levels, and eating disorders.

    Teenagers who are bullied, and also bully their peers — bully-victims — have the highest pre-occupation with weight-loss and are most likely to develop eating disorders, as well as other psychological problems.

    Bully-victims are doubly affected, by both the desire to be attractive, strong and popular, and the psychological harm and lowered levels of self-esteem which come from peer victimisation.

    From the results of this research, Professor Wolke argues that clinicians dealing with victims of peer bullying should directly target their emotional wellbeing, and issues with self-esteem and body image.

    Professor Wolke comments:

    “Bullies are bi-strategic — they want to be popular by being dominant though bullying but also want to look good.”

    “In contrast those who are bullied, the victims, are occupied with weight because they have poor body and self-esteem and are emotionally stressed and hope that looking good might make them feel better.

    If we could reduce bullying, it would help to improve self-worth, body image, wellbeing and healthy ways of keeping fit.”

    The research, ‘Does psychological functioning mediate the relationship between bullying involvement and weight loss preoccupation in adolescents? A two-stage cross-sectional study’, is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.


  5. Female cyberbullies and victims feel the most negative about school and learning

    April 4, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Springer press release:

    Involvement in cyberbullying among girls triggers negative perceptions of the importance of school and the value of learning, a new Nottingham Trent University study suggests. Psychologists, writing in the Springer journal Sex Roles, found that 11-15 year-old girls who were most involved in cyberbullying — as perpetrator, victim, or both — felt the least accepted by their peers. This then had a knock-on effect of spilling over into how important they felt school and learning were, the researchers found.

    The sending and receiving of offensive, threatening, derogatory and often victimizing content on social media is on the rise among young people. This can include sending around unchecked gossip and compromising or humiliating photographs of others. Researchers argue that cyberbullying can be extremely damaging and cause a great deal of stress for young people given its potential to occur around the clock.

    A total of 345 male and female pupils took part in the study2. The pupils completed questionnaires which measured levels of cyberbullying involvement — such as sending and receiving threatening or offensive comments, rumors and the sharing of images or videos — over the last three months. Perceived acceptance by peers and perception of the importance of school and learning were also measured.

    The researchers found that females who reported the highest levels of involvement in cyberbullying felt the least accepted by the peers. This perception of their peers then predicted how they felt about school and learning generally. In terms of males, only boys who had been involved in cyberbullying as both bully and victim felt more negatively about school and learning, the study found.

    Females who felt the least accepted felt more negatively about school and learning, while those who felt more accepted were more positive. The more acceptance girls received from the peers, the more likely they were to shrug off the effects of cyberbullying and enjoy school, and the less likely they were to participate in virtual attacks. This finding contributes to a growing body of evidence about how involvement in cyberbullying undermines young people`s peer relationships.

    “With the increasing amount of time they spend using digital technology, young people are at great risk of being involved in cyberbullying — as a victim, bully, or both,” said Dr. Lucy Betts, lead researcher of the study. “In the past, bullying experiences were often confined to school and would end with the school day. Despite cyberbullying occurring outside the school environment, however, we know that its impact is likely to spill over into school and this is particularly the case for young women.”

    “Our findings highlight that stressors outside the school grounds can have a negative impact on how young women perceive school. This is worrying, as previous studies have shown that young people who experience cyberbullying are more likely to avoid school,” she continued. “Our work also contributes to the growing evidence that involvement in cyberbullying undermines peer relationships and highlights the importance of these relationships upon attitudes towards learning and school for young women.”


  6. Does advice for managing workplace bullying work?

    April 2, 2017 by Ashley

    From the National Communication Association press release:

    If you’ve ever been chewed out by your boss, or suffered through endless criticism and condescension from a colleague, you’re one of many people who have been a victim of workplace bullying. While certain harassment situations call upon employees to follow specific human resources protocol as determined by federal law, many emplo
    yees have experiences that require them to make do with casual advice such as “Just stand up to them,” “Be more assertive,” “File a written record,” “Ignore it,” or “Quit.”

    In a new study featured in the National Communication Association’s Journal of Applied Communication Research, authors Stacy Tye-Williams and Kathleen J. Krone identify and re-imagine the paradox of workplace bullying advice. They interviewed 48 individuals from a variety of occupations and found that targets of workplace bullying frequently offered advice they had received to other targets, despite believing that the advice either made no difference or had made their own situations worse.

    Tye-Williams and Krone explored targets’ “tendency to adopt an exclusively rational response to what may be a highly irrational experience,” and bystanders’ and advice-givers’ inclination to lead individuals to believe they are single-handedly responsible for stopping a bully. While the authors acknowledge that the dilemmas and paradoxes associated with following advice related to workplace bullying are increasingly well-known, they note that the advice organizations receive to address bullying creates even more challenges as it “illustrated the constraints placed on attempts to operate more imaginatively and expressively within formal organizational boundaries.”

    Study participants generally reported favorable views toward the advice they received from supervisors, co-workers, friends or family, or other resources, but also intense frustration when the advice was unrealistic, unhelpful, or downplayed their emotions and experience — which the authors say is problematic.

    Ultimately, Tye-Williams and Krone argue that conventional advice is rarely sufficient to stop workplace bullying, especially as it fails to recognize the emotional nature of the experience and the need for a collective rather than individual response. They recommend validating the strong emotions associated with being bullied and creating “alternative spaces where targets and their allies can begin to imagine more potent options for disrupting cycles of workplace abuse.”


  7. Cyberbullying rarely occurs in isolation, research finds

    March 20, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Warwick press release:

    Cyberbullying is mostly an extension of playground bullying — and doesn’t create large numbers of new victims — according to research from the University of Warwick.

    Professor Dieter Wolke in the Department of Psychology finds that although cyberbullying is prevalent and harmful, it is a modern tool used to harm victims already bullied by traditional, face-to-face means.

    In a study of almost 3000 pupils aged 11-16 from UK secondary schools, twenty-nine percent reported being bullied, but one percent of adolescents were victims of cyberbullying alone.

    During the survey, pupils completed the Bullying and Friendship Interview, which has been used in numerous studies to assess bullying and victimization.

    They were asked about direct victimisation (e.g., “been hit/beaten up” or “called bad/nasty names”); relational victimization (e.g., “had nasty lies/rumours spread about you”); and cyber-victimization (e.g., “had rumours spread about you online,” “had embarrassing pictures posted online without permission,” or “got threatening or aggressive emails, instant messages, text messages or tweets”).

    All the teenagers who reported being bullied in any form had lower self-esteem, and more behavioural difficulties than non-victims.

    However, those who were bullied by multiple means — direct victimisation, relational victimisation and cyber-victimisation combined — demonstrated the lowest self-esteem and the most emotional and behavioural problems.

    The study finds that cyberbullying is “another tool in the toolbox” for traditional bullying, but doesn’t create many unique online victims.

    As a result, Professor Wolke argues that public health strategies to prevent bullying overall should still mainly focus on combatting traditional, face-to-face bullying — as that is the root cause of the vast majority of cyberbullying.

    Professor Wolke comments, “Bullying is a way to gain power and peer acceptance, being the ‘cool’ kid in class. Thus, cyber bullying is another tool that is directed towards peers that the bully knows, and bullies, at school.

    “Any bullying prevention and intervention still needs to be primarily directed at combatting traditional bullying while considering cyberbullying as an extension that reaches victims outside the school gate and 24/7.”

    The research is published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


  8. Childhood bullying may lead to increased chronic disease risk in adulthood

    March 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wolters Kluwer Health media release:

    Being bullied during childhood might have lifelong health effects related to chronic stress exposure — including an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes in adulthood, according to a research review in the March/April issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

    Recent advances in understanding of the negative health effects of chronic stress highlight a pressing need to clarify the longer-term health implications of childhood bullying, according to the review by Susannah J. Tye, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic and colleagues. “Bullying, as a form of chronic social stress, may have significant health consequences if not addressed early,” Dr. Tye comments. “We encourage child health professionals to assess both the mental and physical health effects of bullying.”

    Health Impact of Bullying — What’s the Evidence?

    “Once dismissed as an innocuous experience of childhood, bullying is now recognized as having significant psychological effects, particularly with chronic exposure,” Dr. Tye and co-authors write. Bullying has been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders, although there are still questions about the direction of that association.

    Bullied children also have increased rates of various physical symptomsrecurrent and unexplained symptoms may be a warning sign of bullying. Dr. Tye comments, “It is important that we appreciate the biological processes linking these psychological and physiological phenomena, including their potential to impact long-term health.”

    Studies of other types of chronic stress exposure raise concerns that bullying — “a classic form of chronic social stress” — could have lasting effects on physical health. Any form of continued physical or mental stress can put a strain on the body, leading to increasing “wear and tear.” This process, called allostatic load, reflects the cumulative impact of biological responses to ongoing or repeated stress — for example, the “fight or flight” response.

    “When an individual is exposed to brief periods of stress, the body can often effectively cope with the challenge and recover back to baseline,” Dr. Tye explains. “Yet, with chronic stress, this recovery process may not have ample opportunity to occur, and allostatic load can build to a point of overload. In such states of allostatic overload, physiological processes critical to health and well-being can be negatively impacted.”

    With increasing allostatic load, chronic stress can lead to changes in inflammatory, hormonal, and metabolic responses. Over time, these physiological alterations can contribute to the development of diseases — including depression, diabetes, and heart disease — as well as progression of psychiatric disorders.

    Early-life stress exposure can also affect the way in which these physiological systems respond to future stressors. This may occur in part through epigenetic changes — alterations in gene function related to environmental exposures — that alter the stress response itself. Chronic stress may also impair the child’s ability to develop psychological skills that foster resilience, reducing their capacity to cope with future stress.

    The authors emphasize that although no cause-and-effect relationship can be shown so far. Future research — in particular, collaborations between clinical and basic science researchers — could have important implications for understanding, and potentially intervening in, the relationship between childhood bullying and long-term health.

    Dr. Tye and colleagues believe that current research shows the importance of addressing bullying victimization as a “standard component” of clinical care for children — at the primary care doctor’s office as well as in mental health care. They conclude, “Asking about bullying…represents a practical first step towards intervening to prevent traumatic exposure and reduce risk for further psychiatric and related morbidities.”


  9. Flame retardant chemicals may affect social behavior in young children

    March 12, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Oregon State University press release:

    Some chemicals added to furniture, electronics and numerous other goods to prevent fires may have unintended developmental consequences for young children, according to a pilot study released today.

    Researchers from Oregon State University found a significant relationship between social behaviors among children and their exposure to widely used flame retardants, said Molly Kile, an environmental epidemiologist and associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU.

    “When we analyzed behavior assessments and exposure levels, we observed that the children who had more exposure to certain types of the flame retardant were more likely to exhibit externalizing behaviors such as aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying,” said Kile, the corresponding author of the study, which was published today in the journal Environmental Health.

    “This is an intriguing finding because no one had previously studied the behavioral effects of organophosphate classes of flame retardants, which have been added to consumer products more recently.”

    Flame retardants are found throughout the built environment in furniture, mattresses, carpeting, electronics, vehicles and more. The chemicals are added to the products and are not bound in the material, which causes them to be released into indoor environments.

    Manufacturers began adding flame retardants in 1975, in response to new legislation in California designed to reduce flammability in common household items. The state updated its flammability standards in 2014, and now allows furniture manufacturers to meet the standards without adding flame retardant chemicals to their products, but the chemicals are still widely used and they linger in the indoor environment.

    There are growing concerns that some flame retardants may have unintended impacts on health and development in children, and this study contributes to that body of research.

    The most common types of flame retardants found in the built environment are brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) and organophosphate-based flame retardants (OPFRs). OPFRs emerged as an alternative to BDEs in an effort to address some of the environmental health concerns posed by BDEs, which tend to remain in the environment for long periods.

    Past research has shown that both BDEs and OPFRs are linked to poorer cognitive function in children. But less is known about the relationship between the flame retardants and children’s social and emotional health, particularly during early childhood, a key developmental period for learning.

    “The social skills children learn during preschool set the foundation for their success in school, and also for their social and emotional health and well-being later in life,” said Shannon Lipscomb, an associate professor and lead of the human development and family sciences program at OSU-Cascades and a co-author of the study.

    For this study, the OSU research team recruited 92 Oregon children between ages 3-5 to wear a silicone wristband for seven days to measure exposure to flame retardants.

    The team included Kile, Lipscomb; Megan McClelland and Megan MacDonald of the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences; Kim Anderson of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences; and Andres Cardenas of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an OSU doctoral graduate. The research was supported by OSU’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and the Environmental Health Science Center at OSU.

    The wristbands, developed by Anderson at OSU, have a porous surface that mimics a cell, absorbing chemicals that people are exposed to through their environment. When the wristbands are returned, Anderson can screen for up to 1,200 chemicals that may accumulate. The wristband is an easy and non-invasive way to sample children’s chemical exposure.

    The researchers had parents or primary caregivers complete questionnaires about socio-demographics and the home environment, and preschool teachers completed behavior assessments for each participating child. In all, researchers had complete data and wristband results for 69 children.

    Their analysis showed that all of the children were exposed to some level of flame retardant. Children who had higher exposure rates of OFPRs showed less responsible behavior and more aggression, defiance, hyperactivity, inattention and bullying behaviors. Children with higher exposure to BDEs were seen as less assertive by their teachers. All of these social skills play an important role in a child’s ability to succeed academically and socially.

    “We detected these links between flame retardant and children’s social behaviors while controlling for differences in family demographics, home learning environments and adversity,” Lipscomb said. “This suggests that flame retardants may have a unique effect on development apart from the effects of children’s early social experiences.”

    Further study is needed to better understand the links between flame retardants and children’s social skill development, the researchers said. They plan to pursue funding for a new study that continues for a longer period of time and considers how other aspects of children’s lives might affect the impact of flame retardants on their development.

    “The results of this research to date have shown potential impacts for child health and warrant a more thorough investigation,” Kile said.”If scientists find strong evidence that exposure to flame retardants affects children’s behaviors, we can develop strategies that prevent these exposures and help improve children’s lives. This type of public health science is needed to figure out how to address the root causes of behavioral concerns that can affect children’s school readiness and overall well-being.”


  10. Victimized adolescents more at risk of thinking about suicide or attempting suicide at 15

    October 17, 2016 by Ashley

    From the Elsevier media release:

    school_bully

    A study to be published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that adolescents chronically victimized during at least two school years, are about five times more at risk of thinking about suicide and 6 times more at risk of attempting suicide at 15 years compared to those who were never victimized.

    This is the first study to show a predictive association between victimization, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt in mid-adolescence. It also takes into account a variety of factors, including previous suicidality, mental health problems (by the age of 12 years) such as depression, opposition/defiance and inattention/hyperactivity problems, as well as family adversity.

    Using data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which followed a general population sample of 1168 children born in 1997-98 in Quebec (Canada) until they were 15 years old, a group of researchers led by Dr. Marie-Claude Geoffroy of the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill Group for Suicide Studies) and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre examined the relationship between victimization by peers, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt. The authors hypothesized that children victimized by their peers would be at higher risks of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt compared to non-victims.

    Overall, approximately 20% of the study participants report being exposed to victimization by their peers. Peer victimization includes actions such as being called names, spreading rumours, excluding someone from a group on purpose, attacking someone physically or cyberbullying. According to the authors, victims reported higher rates of suicidal ideation at age 13 and 15 (respectively 11.6% and 14.7%) compared to those who had not been victimized (2.7% at 13 and 4.1% at 15). The authors also observed higher rates of suicide attempt for the victimized adolescents at age 13 and 15 (5.4 % and 6.8%) compared to non-victims (1.6% at 13 and 1.9% at 15). In particular, the data showed that 13 years old adolescents who had been victimized by their peers have two times more risk of having suicidal ideation two years later and three times more at risks of suicide attempt.

    The authors point out that although victimization predicts suicidality it does not necessarily cause it, and this prediction does not apply to all individuals. Only a minority of victims will later develop suicidal ideation or make a suicide attempt. Why these adverse experiences affect individuals remains to be investigated.

    Adolescence is a crucial period for suicide prevention. As a result, the authors suggest that effective interventions may require a multidisciplinary effort involving parents, schoolteachers, principals, and mental health professionals. All adolescents, victimized or not, who think often and/or seriously about suicide should see a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or an accredited psychotherapist.