Could Screening in the Emergency Room Determine if Bullying is the Cause?

Emergency Center at Beaumont, Royal Oak Participates in Bullying Study

Marlene Seltzer, M.D., (far right) looks on as team members sign an anti-bullying poster at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak in early October.

Marlene Seltzer, M.D., (far right) looks on as team members sign an anti-bullying
poster at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak in early October.

In the Emergency Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, you can find hundreds of kids throughout the year who come in because their parents just don’t know what’s wrong. The kids may complain of headaches or stomachaches or other symptoms that haven’t been diagnosed. While some youth have medical conditions, others might have underlying issues that result in physical or mental symptoms.

Marlene Seltzer, M.D., director of NoBLE, Beaumont Children’s Hospital anti-bullying program, is conducting a research study to learn how many kids coming to the Emergency Center are exposed to bullying. “Children may exhibit physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or sleeplessness, for example, when they’re being bullied,” says Dr. Seltzer.

“We’re using this study to see if screening in the EC is a good way to find out if children are being exposed to bullying. At the end of the study, we hope to be able to publish an article about the rate of exposure to bullying in youth presenting to the EC. The results may lay the groundwork for establishing a screening and intervention process for ECs, helping children get the help they need.”

The pilot of the study started in late July with the support of Edward Walton, M.D., medical director of pediatric emergency medicine, and Margaret Menoch, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. When children ages 5 to 18 come to the EC, they or their caregiver are given an anonymous paper-based survey to fill out. The people working at registration have been handing the survey out, allowing the study to take place without putting an additional burden on the care providers. It asks demographic questions as well as questions on peer-related bullying, including if the child has bullied, witnessed bullying, and/or been a target.

“We plan to have the study in place for nine months to a year,” says Dr. Seltzer, who is the principal investigator. “EC doctors anecdotally find out about bullying in the course of conversation with their patients. This study may provide information that suggests formal screening is not just worthwhile, but necessary to helping hundreds of youth each year.”

1 Response to “Could Screening in the Emergency Room Determine if Bullying is the Cause?”

  1. 1 Cathy Fraser November 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I would think if the screen for abuse they would then be led to ask questions of where it came from. Great post, and it’s good to see awareness really starting to spread with this topic! I have had to take my kids to the ER in recent days but not for Bullying thank goodness, but the trips there I’d rather not take at all! Just out looking for some resources on when to take the little ones in or not, Chris Johnson MD has a great read called Keeping Your Kids Out of the ER, He really seems to know what times you take them and what times you don’t, somthing to keep handy in my house!

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