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Parents Worried About Cyberbullies as School Starts Up

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FRIDAY, Aug. 25, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- With school bells ringing once again, 1 in 3 U.S. parents admits to worrying about bullying and cyberbullying.

A new poll involving more than 1,500 parents of children and teens found one-third very concerned about online bullying and how it could affect their child's mental health.

Experts have warned about the link between cyberbullying and anxiety, depression and suicide, the University of Michigan researchers pointed out.

"Adults across the country recognized bullying, including cyberbullying, as the leading health problem for U.S. children," said Dr. Gary Freed. He's a professor of pediatrics at the university and co-director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

Trailing closely behind cyberbullies on parents' list of concerns are sedentary behavior, poor diet, drug abuse and car accidents, the researchers found.

The poll included more than 1,500 parents of children 18 or younger.

Internet safety, including online predators, is also a major concern among parents of children and teens, the researchers discovered.

"Parents should regularly discuss internet safety with their children and teens and ways to prevent problems," Freed said in a university news release. "Simple effective strategies may include not providing personal identifying information on social media, chat platforms, or in shared gaming environments."

All of the parents polled were highly concerned about car accidents, which are the leading cause of death for children 2 to 14 years old.

Parents' anxiety also depended on their race and their children's age, the poll showed.

Racial inequalities and school violence were leading concerns among black parents, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, "among parents of children ages 0-5, cancer was rated as a top health concern even though pediatric cancer is quite rare," said Freed. "Parents may have concerns about very serious conditions despite the small risk for them."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides tips to help ensure a safe and healthy school year.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Medicine, news release, Aug. 21, 2017
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