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AdventHealth Doctors Say COVID Bullying is Real: Here’s How to Spot It

Photo: Cristian Newman

AdventHealth doctors say COVID bullying is making it hard for some kids at school during the pandemic. 

Some Asian American students might become targets of bullying as politicians blame China for the virus.

While their classmates from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds might be singled out by teachers during lockdown games to portray “the infectious person.”  

Pediatric neuropsychologist Dr. Michael Westerveld says teachers and parents need to rethink their bias and consider how they might be passing it onto children.

“Adults have to be very aware of any implicit or overt messages they’re giving to their children about empathy and about how they’re interacting with and treating other people.”

Westerveld says he expected to see more bullying of young people who were tested for or recovered from COVID-19 but so far that hasn’t been the case. 

He said it’s important for parents of children on the autism spectrum who might be victimized to help them adapt to the pandemic.

Parents of higher functioning children should lead with facts about the virus, while families of children who are on the middle or lower end of the spectrum should be more concrete by practicing protocols together.

“Not be ambiguous in any way and be very direct. Not give options or choices because I think that ambiguity is very difficult for kids on the spectrum to tolerate.”

Westerveld says parents can incorporate things like mask wearing and hand washing into their child’s daily routine.

He said some children with sensory sensitivities might not be able wear face masks.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »