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Dr. Chad Jensen, Brigham Young University - Specific types of bullying have specific results

The issue of bullying is a significant problem for some children.

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Chad Jensen, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, suggests that the type of teasing a child may experience can have some very specific results, especially when focused on a child's physical activity and ability.

Dr. Chad Jensen is an assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. His research focuses on the psychological and sociological aspects of childhood and adolescent obesity. He earned a PhD from the University of Kansas in 2011.

About Dr. Jensen

Dr. Chad Jensen - Specific Teasing has Specific Results

Increasing children’s participation in physical activity is an important health promotion aim. Children who frequently engage in physical activity reduce their risk for obesity, depression, diabetes, sleep problems and a host of other physical and mental health problems. Unfortunately, research suggests that only 8% of school age children meet the US recommendation of one hour of physical activity per day.

Children’s early experiences with physical activity can influence their exercise habits well into adulthood.  Previous research suggests that children who are bullied by peers are at risk for reduced physical activity. However, few studies have assessed children’s experiences with physical activity-specific teasing. For example, kids may be teased about their physical skills, ostracized when teams are chosen for sports, or criticized for their physical appearance when they wear exercise clothing. Additionally, past research has not examined potential effects of teasing on physical activity participation over time.

Our research suggests that children ages 9-12 who experience higher levels of teasing during physical activity demonstrate reduced levels of physical activity one year later when compared to peers who are not teased. Interestingly, although previous studies have generally reported that this association primarily exists among overweight children, our findings suggest that normal weight children who are teased engage in less physical activity one year later. Our results suggest that potential negative effects of teasing during physical activity may persist well beyond the teasing experience.

Findings from our research underscore the importance of comprehensive bullying prevention efforts in schools and on the playing field. We encourage educators and other adult leaders to intervene if children are being teased during physical activity and to consider physical education classes and recess important domains for bullying prevention.

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