VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Increasing
evidence shows that stigma – whether due to a child’s weight, sexual
orientation, race, income or other attribute -- is at the root of bullying, and
that it can cause considerable harm to a child’s mental health.
Experts in pediatric mental health,
bullying and ostracism will gather May 5 for a symposium titled “Stigma,
Ostracism and Bullying: Dangers, Prevention and Interventions” at the Pediatric
Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. Researchers
will present evidence of stigma associated with various attributes and the harm
it poses to children through bullying, ostracism, and discrimination.
Stigmatization is linked to depression,
anxiety disorders, aggressive behavior and lower quality of life. Stigma marks
certain individuals as less worthy than others, marginalizes them, and impedes
their access to needed educational and health services.
“Stigma reflects a tendency to overlook
and devalue differences among people, and thus keeps us from appreciating our
diversity,” said symposium chair Ellen C. Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics
at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. “Stigma leads to
small and large acts of aggression or social exclusion of people with
characteristics that society defines as undesirable. Whether this manifests as
physical aggression, ostracism or electronic bullying, it causes measurable
damage to children’s self-esteem, mental and physical health.”
In the symposium, speakers will present
evidence of the harm stigma causes to children and families, using data about
specific stigmatized conditions. The symposium will conclude with a summary of
recent attempts to overcome stigma and bullying.
The symposium will run from 8 to 10 a.m.
in the Vancouver Convention Centre. Topics and presenters include:
and Concepts,” presented by Ellen C. Perrin, Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts
Medical Center, Boston
and Stigmatization of Children of Color,” presented by Adiaha Spinks-Franklin,
Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
and Stigmatization of Children Who Are Overweight or Obese,” presented by
Eliana M. Perrin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and Stigmatization of Children with Developmental-Behavioral Disabilities,”
presented by Conway F. Saylor, The Citadel, Charleston, SC
and Stigmatization of Non-heterosexual Children and Youth” presented by Mark L.
Hatzenbuehler, Columbia University, New York, NY
and Programs to Prevent Stigma, Ostracism, and Bullying,” presented by Joseph
L. Wright, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington DC.
“The exposure of all children to the
effects of bullying as a victim, perpetrator or bystander is pervasive and
needs to be fully appreciated and addressed, “ said Joseph L. Wright, MD, MPH, senior
vice president at Children’s National Medical Center and immediate past chair
of the American Academy of Pediatrics Violence Prevention Subcommittee. “While
we are still gaining a complete scientific understanding of the depth of the
health and behavioral health consequences of bullying behavior, for the sake of
our children, we simply can no longer afford to accept or tolerate its presence
in our society.”
Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that
co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society
for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American
Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and
other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and
clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the
advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all
share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of children
For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.