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BULLYING Is it Just a Part of Growing Up? Nicholas Carlisle I was the target of bullying throughout all four years of high school. Back then nobody called it bullying.

It was just boys being boys and you were seen as weak if you complained. My experience was not unusual. According to In Plain Sight (2014), a UNICEF report on violence against children, approximately thirty percent of adolescents across the world are the target of bullying. In most of these countries ageold habits of denial are still strong, leading students to under- or zero-report what they are suffering. Bullying is a significant health issue. Beyond the more obvious physical effects that come physical aggression, all types of bullying can contribute to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post traumatic symptoms, suicidal and violent ideation. Bullying is particularly devastating when a child is target because of core characteristics such as their skin color, body type, disability, religion or sexual orientation or gender identify, because that can lead to shame based trauma. The impact is compounded when a child is the target of other adverse childhood experiences. In October the California Medical Association adopted an SFMS-submitted resolution calling for two actions: First is a call for physicians to include peer bullying in any screening for adverse childhood experiences that they provide to California youth. This is timely. Denial is still strong and shame impedes many youth from admitting that they are the target of bullying. The most basic screening question is: “what do you do at recess at your school?” This surfaces the student’s social world and the social isolation that is often the most immediate impact of being taunted, ostracized or the target of cyber shaming. The second part of the resolution calls for the state of California to pass legislation requiring local education agencies to adopt policies that prohibit student discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying and to train school personnel how to comply with the policy. Schools have a critical role in ending bullying and yet few teachers have actually been trained in how to intervene effectively. The only way this deficit is likely to be

overcome is through mandating that all teachers be trained and in allocating specific line-item funding towards this so that antibullying programming does not compete with academic programming for funding. The state of California sidestepped addressing this deficit through its passage of Seth’s Law (2012), in which it asked the California Department of Education to track whether school districts had adopted a policy against discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying. It allows California to say that it now has joined the majority of U.S. states in passing anti-bullying legislation. However, by avoiding any real mandate on schools to address bullying, the state avoided making any commitment to funding. The result is a statute that has no teeth and an estimated 1.5 million bullied California students will continue to receive limited or no help from their schools. The tragedy is that schools can learn quite rapidly how to prevent bullying and solve the incidents that still occur. California teachers trained by No Bully, the non-profit that I started in 2009, are solving over ninety percent of cases of bullying through leveraging student empathy for their peers. Similar to many pressing social issues, there are effective remedies if we come together to address bullying. The CMA resolution, which now goes to the AMA for national adoption, can have a significant part to play in making childhood bully-free. Nicholas Carlisle is the CEO of No Bully, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that has created bully-free campuses for over 120,000 students. He graduated from Oxford University, qualified as a barrister with a human rights focus and served as chairman of the non-profit section of Amnesty International in Britain. He practiced in California as a child and family psychotherapist and researched with Professor Eric Rofes the effects of school bullying, published in 2007 in the Journal of Traumatology.  Nicholas gave a TEDx talk on bullying in 2015. To find out more about No Bully or to get involved visit

Continued from adjascent page . . . families and communities. Reducing disparities among LGBT youth starts with you. In committing yourself to becoming a culturally competent provider with your patients and in your community, you help our entire country take a step towards LGBT equity. Geoffrey Hart-Cooper is a resident in the Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) track at the University of California


San Francisco. His passion for LGBT youth health and wellness is focused on provider capacity building and empowerment. He completed an applied epidemiology fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where his research focused on STD and HIV prevention in gay and bisexual men. He is a member of the San Francisco’s Getting to Zero Campaign focused on achieving the UNAIDS goal of zero HIV infections, AIDS-related deaths, and HIV-related stigma.



Profile for San Francisco Marin Medical Society

January 2016  

San Francisco Medicine, Vol. 89, No. 1, January 2016

January 2016  

San Francisco Medicine, Vol. 89, No. 1, January 2016