Angry and sad at Xmas: victims of adolescent bullying

FACES_Tiny_with_creditThere have been far too many stories recently of desperate teenagers committing suicide, and an unknown number of families today will be reeling from the discovery that their teenager is seriously self-harming because of bullying. Mobile phones and social networking sites have exacerbated an age-old problem so that there is nowhere to hide. 

Poison-pen letter writers are no longer adults in detective stories. They have been brought right up-to-date, and are alive and well reincarnated in teenagers. Incapable of empathy with their victim, remote bullying via texts, phones, videoclips and the internet makes it so easy & so much more devastating, reaching  beyond a school, covering entire towns & counties,  and as its not face-to-face, even less likely for the teenage bully to empathise.

There also seems to be more serious consequences to bullying these days:  beyond loss of confidence, our society is experiencing a rise in self-harming and suicide amongst teenagers. Is it because teenagers these days are so interested in relationships & celebrity, following soaps avidly, that they are posting the minutiae of their lives online for all to see as if they were part of a soap opera?

What is the research evidence available to understand what’s going on?

I took a look and discovered to my horror that being bullied in primary schools can set you up to self-harm when you are a teenager in your next school.  Being Bullied During Childhood and the Prospective Pathways to Self-Harm in Late Adolescence ,  was co-authored at Warwick University, UK. Their press release reveals that 16.5% of 16-17 year olds had self-harmed in the previous year, and 26.9% of these did so because they felt as though they ‘wanted to die’. Those who were subjected to chronic bullying over a number of years at primary school were nearly five times more likely to self-harm six to seven years later in adolescence.[see press

Furthermore, other research shows being both the bully and the bully-victim is linked to an increased risk of suicide or mental illness. I also discovered that self-harming is a very difficult habit to break.

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Low-level iodine-deficiency produces lower IQ children in UK


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IN my March
2013 blog “Eat
less salt but make sure it contains iodine
!”, I described the  problems of addressing iodine–deficiency
diseases
in Pakistan and  the worrying
rise in iodine deficiency in the UK, 
linked to a shift  in eating patterns
away from dairy and oily fish, our traditional sources of iodine.   Whereas, other developed countries had relied
on introducing a national supply of iodised salt, we had got away without it.
But even countries using iodised salt, now had to watch out, as salt–reduction  campaigns to tackle rising cardiovascular
diseases, were allowing iodine-deficiency to reoccur albeit at a low-level (as
compared to the high level of iodine deficiency found in developing countries)

NOW there is further support for re-emerging iodine deficiency
in the UK:  this time a study on pregnant
women
published in the Lancet. They have identified changes in the IQ of primary-school
children born to mothers with low-level iodine deficiency:  IQ goes down 3 points & reading age is
reduced.   For more information, read the BBC article Iodine deficiency 'may lower
UK children's IQ
and the Lancet
study
.

Need I say more? In the March blog, which featured
on Global Health Knowledge Base
and CABI-Handpicked & carefully
sorted
, I covered the spectrum of iodine-deficiency diseases which can
occur in children born to mothers with iodine-poor diets,  leaving the children with permanent physical
& mental intelligence problems. 
Daily it seems, the case is being made to consider introducing iodised
salt into the UK  and to advise would-be
pregnant mothers not only to ensure folic acid is in their diet but also
adequate iodine ( BUT not  through
seaweed supplements). Pregnant mothers who rely on organic milk should be aware that this contains less iodine than usual and they will need to increase iodine intake to compensate.

WE do indeed “have a new challenge to addressing
iodine deficiency in both developing and developed countries”.

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