Teen: Child Development (12-17 Years Old)

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

How can parents help their teen deal with bullying?

Bullying is one of the biggest challenges that teens are facing. Unfortunately, many teens are forced to deal with bullying while their parents and teachers are unaware on the specific nature and severity of the problem in their school. Data from 2010 indicate that approximately 160,000 students miss school each day as a result of being bullied or fear of being bullied. School districts and administrators have often adopted a "zero tolerance" approach to bullying. However, progressively more frequent cases of "cyber bullying" using social media are replacing the overt verbal threat and/or physical assault that is the more traditional experience in past years. Research indicates that in 2010 approximately 2.7 million students were the victims of approximately 2.1 bullying contemporaries. That means that about 282,000 high school students are attacked each month. Unfortunately, those being bullied may react in two ways to repeated bullying. Some who have been the victims of bullying respond by adopting the policy of "the best defense is a strong offense" and become a bully themselves. Other teens see no alternative but suicide. Nationally, suicide is the number three cause of death for adolescents (behind automobile accidents and homicide).

Several areas must be addressed to prevent bullying.

  1. Policies: A clear definition is necessary. This will allow easy recognition and thus promote a quick assessment and resolution of this problem. Specific types (verbal, physical, cyber, sexual or religious orientation, etc.) should be detailed. Similarly, frustrating events that are not bullying should be discussed (for example, being chosen last for sporting games due to poor ability).
  2. Consequences: Fair, immediate, and appropriate consequences should be detailed. Many states have statutory penalties for those convicted of such offences.
  3. Family education: Parents should be expected to help their children recognize and report bullying. They are responsible for supporting their child's concerns. If their child is the bully, they have the responsibility to address this issue with gravity and obtain counseling for their child.

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Bradley, Michael J. Yes, Your Parents Are Crazy! A Teen Survival Guide. Gig Harbor, WA: Harbor Press, 2004.

Bradley, Michael J. Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Loosing Your Mind. Gig Harbor, WA: Harbor Press, 2003.

Bullying Statistics. <http://www.bullyingstatistics.org>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10-24 Years -- United States, 2002-2007." July 17, 2009. <http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/srh.htm>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance -- United States, 200p." MMWR 59.SS-5 June 4, 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/21/2014
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