Recently, Susan Poirer, Public Health Nurse for the Town of Milton, wrote an article for the Milton Times on bullying prevention. I wanted to share this article for two reasons. First, bullying is an important public health issue that can have lasting impacts on the bullied and the bully. Second, research finds a connection between bullying and substance use. In fact, students who bully their classmates are also more likely to use substance, like alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes. To learn more about the link between bullying and substance use, read this blog post by Frances Harding, the previous Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at SAMHSA. 

Read Susan Poirier’s article, below, on bullying:

Many adults think that bullying is harmless and will make the victim a stronger person who will be ready to face life’s challenges.  The reality is that bullying is another form of youth violence. It decreases self-esteem, increases anxiety, causes depression, and can lead to suicidal thoughts.  Young people today must deal with bullying in many forms including verbal abuse, physical abuse, and cyber-bullying.  This leads to physical, psychological, social, and/or educational harm. 

There are 10 signs of bullying per

  • Unexplained Injuries
  • Changes in appetite
  • Frequent sick days
  • Missing personal items
  • Suffering grades
  • Tendency to self-harm
  • Isolation
  • Avoidance
  • Loss of sleep
  • Exclusion from social activities

How can we prevent bullying?

In order to prevent bullying, children need to understand what bullying is, how to identify it, and how to react to it safely. Parents, caregivers, or guardians need to keep communication open to make their child feel supported and safe.  Children should be encouraged to seek out those activities or interests that give them pleasure while building self-esteem and confidence.  They need to show kindness and respect to others especially towards those who are being bullied.

Per the CDC website “the percentage of public schools that reported student bullying occurred at least once a week was highest for middle schools (25%).” The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied on school property in the 12 months before the survey. Additionally, 16 percent of high school students reported they have been bullied electronically in the past 12 months. 

It is important for schools to have Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans. The Milton School Department has a “Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan” in place with contact information available for victim, family members, or friends who are aware of a bullying incident.  Parents, caregivers, or guardians should review this information and talk to their children about bullying in order to establish a supportive family relationship which will encourage a child to come forward if bullied.

Bullying Prevention Resources

Please check out the websites below about preventing bullying.  They offer valuable information on how to open the lines of communication and ask the right questions when discussing bullying with your child.

Sources for this article


  • Susan Poirier RN, BSN is the Public Health Nurse for the Town of Milton