Bullying and childhood obesity

By: Christine Nicholson Email
By: Christine Nicholson Email

TEXOMA -- Sherman and Denison students joined others in Texoma returning to class this week. For this Mom's Everyday Health segment, we continue our coverage of bullying and how it correlates to childhood obesity in our schools.

The first day of school is a time of excitement for many like mother and son, Holli and Malcolm Hubbard, walking hand in hand to school or mother Trysten Pine who just dropped off her son, "I feel like he's grown up too big but he's so excited this morning."

But for students who are bullied because of their weight, it can be a difficult time of year. Almost a third of children are either overweight or obese. School is where children spend most of their day and eat a lot of their daily calories but according to Texas Health WNJ Dietician Kelly Hughes, offering healthier options is up to the parents.

"They're the ones doing the grocery shopping," Hughes said. "They're the ones putting the foods in their mouths so they're very important and play a very big role."

Besides planning healthy meals, 4th grade teachers like Sherri Shelton of Henry W. Sory Elementary suggests being mindful of your child's behavior at home.

"Parents should look out for things, characteristics that maybe something that their child hasn't been doing before," Shelton said. "Look into it and investigate and make sure that nothing's going on and the child hasn't told them yet."

Sory Elementary Principal Steven Traw says parents should talk to the school if their child comes to them after being bullied because it might not be something the personnel is aware of. But most of all, parents should stay involved.

"That doesn't mean necessarily having to be at school but just knowing what's going on: reading newsletters, checking the website, reading teacher notes, talking to the teacher frequently, asking questions. It's always good to ask questions if you're not sure about something or not aware of what's going on. Just always call and ask," Traw said.

For the student who is the bully, many schools like Sory have programs in place to help build accountability.

Shelton add, "We try to build strong character and I think talking about the kids about strong character helps them understand that they have to be kind and respectful of other people."

And for students being bullied, Shelton recommends, "to come to an adult whether it's the teacher, the counselor or the principal. Someone that they know and trust that can help them.

Co-author and anti-bullying expert Marie Newman has teamed up with Sears to launch the "Team Up to Stop Bullying" website' to help put solutions and services directly into the hands of parents and educators like Traw and Shelton.

Newman says there's a 'wide variety of things to choose from. "There are solutions on our site that you can use inside the schools. Such as a school may tap into a system that is documentation, reporting, victims support, holistic maintenance programs. One of the things that we say to our educators in our school systems is that these can be found."

So when it comes to bullying and childhood obesity, there are effective solutions out there, but as Newman reminds us, "it is something that is everyday and every hour at school, not just a one day event."

Check with your child's school for details on their anti-bullying programs and your family physician for healthy food options for your student. For more information on "Team Up to Stop Bullying", go to http://www.sears.com/teamup or check out the book "When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions", co-authored by Marie Newman and J.E. Dimarco, available at bookstores across Texoma.

You can see stories like this and more at http://www.momseveryday.com/texoma

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