Your child may need to wear glasses to see and read better if they have vision problems such as shortsightedness or farsightedness. It will help them grow, develop and learn as efficiently as possible, just like those with no vision problems.
Despite its therapeutic benefits, wearing glasses can increase a child’s exposure to bullying by up to 37 percent, according to one study. It is just one of the many causes of unwarranted physical, verbal, or emotional harassment that can occur at school or in the neighborhood. Here are some alarming statistics on the prevalence of bullying among students 12-18 years old:
Nearly 20 percent have experienced it
15 percent of all reported cases are through cyber bullying, either by text or online
Rumors or lies make up 13.4 percent of the bullying
Insults, mockery, and name-calling make up 13 percent of the bullying
Physical bullying, such as pushing or shoving, make up 5.3 percent of reported cases
Adjusting to your first pair of glasses can be a pain, made even harder for children who experience bullying.
If your child wears glasses to school, you can take measures to protect them from harassment. Better yet, there are other vision-correction options that are safe for minors.
Why LASIK Is Not an Option?
While LASIK can eliminate the need to wear glasses, it works best for individuals with stable vision. That is why the FDA has only approved the procedure for those 18 years old and above.
"As a general rule, it’s not appropriate to do LASIK in children whose eyes are still growing and are not stable."
Dr. Peter J. McDonnell, Chief of Ophthalmology at UC Irvine
At their discretion, some eye surgeons may not perform LASIK on patients between 18 and 24, unless it is absolutely necessary. They consider 25 years old as when normal eyes reach maximum vision stability.
Two main issues can make LASIK unsuitable for your child – if their vision continues to develop, rendering the procedure ineffective, and if the procedure is deemed unsafe.
The eyes of a child continue developing until they reach 18 years of age, at least. Their refractive error (shortsightedness or farsightedness) also changes with age.
These gradual changes eventually cancel out any vision correction initially achieved with LASIK. This is why minors who have the procedure usually require another treatment or even eye surgery later in life.
Some ophthalmologists believe a child’s cornea may be more vulnerable to post-LASIK complications than those of an adult. They may not perform the procedure on your child unless there is no other way to save their vision.
Alternatives to Glasses for Children
To buy your child some time until they are ready to wear glasses or eligible for LASIK, you may explore other vision correction options. These may include:
Eye doctors may recommend MiSight daily-wear, disposable lenses to prevent childhood vision problems from getting worse. Children as young as 8 can wear these lenses to improve their distance vision until they are teenagers.
While the FDA-approved contacts are generally effective, they require high levels of hygiene to prevent eye infection.
Sometimes, an abnormally-shaped cornea, front surface of the eye, can cause nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Wearing orthokeratology or ortho-K lenses overnight can correct these vision defects by reshaping the cornea. Since the correction is temporary, your child has to wear the reusable contacts each night to enjoy better vision the following day.
Not every child can comfortably or safely use these contacts. Your child should see an eye doctor to get a custom-fit and discuss any risks.
Atropine Eye Drops
Eye exams can help tell if your shortsighted child is a good candidate for atropine eye drops. The drug treats lazy eye, but it can sometimes help control nearsightedness when administered in small doses.
Beware of its potential side-effects, including:
Dilated or enlarged pupil
These contact lenses can correct several refractive errors at once. They may be ideal for a child with near, intermediate or distance vision.
Damage Bullying Can Cause
Recent statistics show that about 95 percent of children between 3 and 18 years old can browse the web at home. This unprecedented access to the internet and social media through laptops or smartphones increase their cyberbullying exposure.
One out of every five (20.2%) students report being bullied.
National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019
More than ever, school-going children are a target for mean commentary via messaging apps, social media profiles, or text messages. The bullying can occur any time of day or night and sometimes anonymously.
Both the bully and their victim can suffer bad physical, social, academic, and psychological ramifications.
Depending on the nature or severity of the bullying, a victim may experience negative effects such as:
Depression and anxiety
Sadness and isolation
Poor academic performance
Violent reaction to bullying
Underage bullies can suffer negative consequences that extend through adolescence into adulthood. These may include:
Criminal behavior and incarceration
Abusive marital relationships
Dropping out of school
Key stakeholders in the fight against bullying in children include:
State and federal authorities
Playing your role right can help create a safer environment for all children.
Government agencies at all levels can boost anti-bullying efforts by creating and enforcing appropriate laws. It is their responsibility to formulate policies that guide educators in establishing effective school-based anti-bullying programs.
Each state has an anti-bullying law that directs schools on how to prevent and resolve bullying cases
There are federal laws that prohibit harassment in school based on factors such as disability, race, gender, or national origin
Schools should work closely with parents and the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in combating bullying. By adopting proper prevention programs, they can reduce bullying incidents by up to 23 percent.
Most effective school-based anti-bullying efforts incorporate critical elements such as:
Anti-bullying rules for classrooms
Engaging and training parents
Strict disciplinary methods
Educating teachers, administrators, and students about bullying
Role of the Community
Any member of a community can do something about bullying to protect children. They include:
Law enforcement agencies
Mental health specialists
As a community member, you can help in ways such as:
Funding/supporting violence-prevention programs
Running bullying-awareness campaigns
Counseling young people
Learning about bullying and reporting suspected incidents
What You Can Do as a Parent
As a parent, you are not powerless to stop bullying. You can play your part in many ways. Among them:
Learning to recognize warning signs of bullying, such as unusual changes in your child’s emotions
Volunteering at your child’s school to get a feel of the social dynamics
Taking interest in your child’s social experiences at school everyday
Encouraging responsible use of technology
Teaching your children to identify bullying
Reassuring your children of your support if bullied
Discouraging bullying or similar behavior
Participating in school-based or local community-based anti-bullying initiatives
Common Visual Defects and Peer Victimization in Children. (April 2005). Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.
Facts About Bullying. Stopbullying.gov.
LASIK and Age: Pushing the Limits. (September 2004). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Four Alternatives to Eyeglasses for Children With Myopia. (June 2020) American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Children’s Internet Access at Home. (May 2021). National Center for Education Statistics.
Student Bullying: Overview of Research, Federal Initiatives, and Legal Issues. (October 2013) Congressional Research Service.
Effects of Bullying. Stopbullying.gov.
What You Can Do. Stopbullying.gov.
Bullying Prevention for Teachers and Parents. (September 2021). U.S. News.