Parental support for policy measures and school-based efforts to address weight-based victimization of overweight youth

Puhl, R M; Luedicke, J
April 2014
International Journal of Obesity;Apr2014, Vol. 38 Issue 4, p531
Academic Journal
Background:Despite research documenting weight-based victimization (WBV) toward overweight youth in the school setting, little work has examined parental perceptions of this problem or potential policy strategies to help protect youth who are teased and bullied about their weight. This study assessed parental reports of WBV in youth and parental support for potential measures to address this problem, including implementation of school-based resources, policies, and state and federal laws.Methods:A national sample of parents in the United States (N=919) completed an online questionnaire about their perceptions of WBV in the school setting, including whether or not their child had experienced or witnessed WBV. Parents were also asked the degree to which they would support potential policy strategies to address WBV in schools, including school-based policies and state and federal laws to address weight-based bullying in youth.Results:Parents perceived overweight youth to be vulnerable to WBV at school, but less than half of parents perceived schools to be prepared to deal with instances of WBV. Parents (both with and without overweight children) agreed that schools should implement anti-bullying policies that include specific protections for students who are overweight or obese, increase resources available to youth who experience WBV at school, and promote awareness about this problem. Over two-thirds of parents agreed that state anti-bullying laws should include specific protections against weight-related bullying.Conclusion:These findings indicate that there is substantial support from parents, both with and without overweight children, to implement a range of policy measures to address this WBV at the school, state, and federal level.


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