• Article
  • January 2, 2015

Hospital Anti-bullying Program Helps Kids Cope

Bringing parents, communities and schools together can help kids deal with bullying.

By Marlene Seltzer, M.D.,

Creating a hospital anti-bullying program offers the opportunity to partner with members of the community a hospital serves. As the director of such a program, I see that it can educate provider groups and be a resource for individual physicians. The NoBLE (No Bullying Live Empowered) Program at Beaumont Children’s Hospital is two years old. Its first initiative was the creation of a hotline that a local nonprofit crisis agency manages. The first call came in hours after it was launched, and there have been more than 1,000 crisis contacts to date. Another NoBLE initiative was the creation of a Bullying Issues Mediation Program with a local mediation center. This program facilitates conversations and helps resolve issues related to bullying behavior, thereby preventing litigation. The program is specifically for parents/guardians and schools.

In addition, a roundtable of community organizations grew into an anti-bullying collective whose mission is to help communities become upstanders versus bystanders. Members of this group believe bullying is a societal problem that will require the involvement of entire communities. NOBLE is also currently supporting a multi-school student initiative. This type of program can help implement systematic change and help people better utilize community resources. NoBLE piloted a program with InsideOut Literary Arts Project to place professional writers in a school to help students develop self-expression skills, specifically around the themes of bullying and compassion.

In addition to building bridges in the community and looking for different ways to address this issue, it’s critical to also talk with parents. Often, by the time a parent calls, he or she is in crisis. The parent feels powerless to stop the bullying. Validating the parent’s concerns, providing strategies and offering resources is some of the most gratifying work I’ve ever done. Parents are often invisible victims.

Pediatricians and hospitals are on the front lines. Every day is an opportunity to educate, screen and treat patients who are being impacted by bullying. Prevention and advocacy should be second nature. More research is needed to help develop practical applications. The sheer numbers of youth affected, coupled with the lifelong impact, cannot be ignored. If bullying was a virus, it would be all hands on deck. Hospitals and doctors should act as if it is.

Marlene Seltzer, M.D., is the director of the NoBLE Program at Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.