RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Study: kids are getting beat up at school

Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy  January 14, 2014 05:47 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Thumbnail image for fighting.jpgSchool is supposed to be a safe place for kids. Not only is it where we send them to learn, it's a place with rules--and supervising adults. Sure, there's always the possibility of falling off the swing or tripping over a chair--but we shouldn't have to worry about our kids being beat up.

A study recently published in the journal Pediatrics says that actually, we do need to worry.

Researchers looked at information from emergency room visits across the country. They found that between 2001 and 2008, more than 7 million children ages 5 to 19 were treated for injuries they got at school (about 12 percent of all injuries in that age group). But here's what's scary: 10 percent of those injuries were intentional--the kids were hurt by someone on purpose, not by accident.

The injuries aren't all minor, either. Some are just bumps and bruises, sure, but there were a significant number of fractures--and brain injuries.

These intentional injuries are more common in boys--and, what is particularly scary is that boys are more likely to get beat up at school than outside of school. (Girls are more likely to be hurt intentionally outside of school). This is especially true of middle school students--which reminded me of the time when my daughter's middle school friend was taken under the bleachers and beaten because he is gay.

We talk a lot about cyberbullying, and it's true that it's a dangerous thing and on the rise--but this study makes it clear that plain old schoolyard bullying is still happening.

So what can we do?

Well, all schools should have anti-bullying policies and programs--and good supervision on school grounds. If parents don't know what the policies, programs and supervision are at their child's school they should ask--and if they aren't in place, they should speak up and make sure they get put into place.

Parents also need to work with their own children to help prevent them from becoming either victims or bullies. A lot of that has to do with how children are doing emotionally and socially, and parents should always talk to their pediatrician if they have any concerns. But there are also strategies we can teach children to help them handle those dicey school moments. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents teach their children to ACT CALM.

If they are mad, they should:

Acknowledge angry feelings
Calm down (breathe deeply, count to 10, listen to music)
Think and Talk (think about the problem and ways to fix it, talk with someone about how they are feeling)

If someone starts a fight, the child can be the one to stay calm:
Calm down (keep a safe distance away, take deep breaths, stay alert)
Avoid (avoid returning insults, avoid other kids who may want to fight)
Listen (to what other kid is saying, try to understand what they really want)
Move on (find a way to solve the problem without fighting, or just walk away)

To learn more about the study and for links to other resources about violence against children and keeping kids safe, visit

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


About MD Mama

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »

More community voices

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street


Browse this blog

by category