Black children are five times more likely to be admitted to the hospital due to asthma complications, which can often cause bullies to zero in on them because they are perceived as weak or different.
One in 10 children with asthma say they have been bullied or teased as a result of their condition, but tight asthma control seems to keep bullying at bay, a new study suggests.
“Children with well-controlled asthma are less likely to have asthma attacks or end up in the hospital, and they are also less likely to report asthma-related bullying or teasing,” study author Dr. Will Carroll says. He’s a pediatric respiratory medicine specialist at University Hospitals of the North Midlands NHS Trust in the United Kingdom. “Bullying and teasing can have significant, long-term consequences. We should all do our bit to help prevent it.”
What the study shows
For the study, Carroll and his team analyzed interviews conducted during a survey (dubbed Room to Breathe) with nearly 950 kids in six countries and their parents or caregivers. Kids were asked if they had ever been teased or bullied because of their asthma, and parents were asked to describe how worried they were about their child’s health.
The researchers also assessed the kids’ asthma control using various scoring methods.
Children whose asthma symptoms were well-controlled were almost half as likely to report being bullied or teased compared to kids whose asthma symptoms were poorly controlled, the study findings showed.
Asthma-related bullying or teasing was also three times more likely among those who described their asthma as “quite bad” or “very bad.”
As a result of bullying or fear of bullying, children with asthma were 74% more likely to report sitting out of activities. These same kids were also more likely to say that their parents were overly worried about their health.
How to help your child with asthma
The message for kids with asthma: “You are not alone,” Carroll says. “Bullying and teasing about asthma are common, but not right. Tell your parents, teachers, or asthma doctor or nurse.”
Getting better control over asthma and preventing flares is important for these kids physically and mentally, he adds.
Parents also have an important role to play, Carroll notes.