Home Mental Health & Well-Being High Rates of Bullying in Individuals with Skin Diseases Demand International Intervention

High Rates of Bullying in Individuals with Skin Diseases Demand International Intervention

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A recent study in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology has highlighted the significant prevalence of bullying that people with various skin diseases experience. The comprehensive research underscores the urgent need for targeted interventions to address this pervasive issue.

The study, part of the “Bullying among Dermatologic Patients” project supported by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), aimed to investigate the prevalence and nature of bullying in patients with skin diseases. Data were collected from international social media groups, in-patients, and out-patients with skin diseases, as well as from parents of children with skin diseases across six European countries. The focus was on both self-reported and parental-reported instances of bullying.

A sizable percentage of participants reported bullying, with significant variations seen across nations and age groups. Overall, 25.6% of patients reported bullying during face-to-face consultations, while a striking 63.7% of respondents from international patients’ groups reported bullying. Among school and university students, 12.2% reported experiencing bullying due to their skin conditions. Parental-reported bullying was highest among 3–4-year-old children, with 34.5% of parents noting such incidents.

The study identified verbal abuse and social isolation as the most prevalent forms of bullying, while physical abuse was less frequently reported. Cyberbullying was notably higher among respondents from international patients’ groups, who also reported lower levels of social avoidance compared to those interviewed face-to-face. Only 33.2% of participants had spoken to someone about their bullying experiences, highlighting a significant issue of underreporting.

The peak prevalence of bullying occurred between the ages of 13 and 15. However, instances were reported in children as young as three years old, with bullying potentially continuing into adulthood. The study emphasises that while younger children may not retain lasting memories of bullying, the effects become more pronounced and damaging as they grow older, particularly during adolescence.

The long-term effects of bullying on individuals with skin diseases are profound. The study revealed that 63% of respondents reported negative long-term impacts, including increased risk of psychosomatic issues, lower self-esteem, and higher rates of suicidal ideation. Victims of bullying were also found to have difficulties in maintaining social relationships and achieving educational and career goals.

The researchers advocate for international efforts to mitigate skin disease-related bullying. These initiatives should involve a multifaceted approach, targeting teachers, classmates, parents, and healthcare professionals. Educational activities aimed at improving knowledge about skin diseases and promoting empathy are crucial. The study suggests that integrating anti-bullying strategies into school curricula and providing support for victims and their families could significantly reduce the incidence of bullying.

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