More than half of all adolescents who are bullied believe they are victimised due to their appearance, according to an anti-bullying charity.
In its annual report, Ditch the Label surveyed nearly 9,000 adolescents and discovered 52% believed they were bullied because of the way they look. In addition, 55% said they developed depression as a direct result of bullying.
Demand for cosmetic surgery among bullied children
In addition, researchers at Warwick Medical School discovered that more than one in ten children who are bullied want to get cosmetic surgery.
In a survey of around 800 adolescents, Professor Dieter Wolke and his colleagues found that 11.5% of those reporting to have been bullied wanted plastic surgery – compared to just 1% of those unaffected by bullying.
Dr Wolke said, “Being victimised by peers resulted in poor psychological functioning, which increased the desire for cosmetic surgery.”
But could surgery stop the bullies?
According to Ditch the Label, children bully their peers for reasons more to do with their home life and personal situation, rather than the victim’s physical appearance.
The charity said, “Many students who bully others do so as a coping mechanism for their own trauma and stressful situations that are not being addressed.”
Due to this, no surgical procedure can guarantee the end to victimisation of a child by a bully.
So what should you do if your child wants surgery?
Wolke and his co-authors say, “The desire for cosmetic surgery in bullied adolescents is immediate and long-lasting.”
Before letting underage patients pursue surgery, Wolfe said, “Cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying.”
By doing this, the root cause of the child’s request for surgery can be addressed before any permanent and potentially life-altering cosmetic procedures are carried out.
In addition, the NHS advises people considering surgery to ask themselves tough questions about their reasons and expectations for surgery, and also suggests speaking to a counsellor first.
What to do if your child is committed to surgery
Though no cosmetic procedure can guarantee the cessation of a bullying campaign, if your child is determined to go ahead, there is guidance on how to get the best outcome from surgery:
- Do your research
- Explore options available to your child – is surgery really the only way to achieve the results they want? Speak to your GP, meet with several doctors and clinics, ask questions, and don’t be lured in by cheap offers.
- Take your time
- When suffering at the hands of a bully, one day, one week or one school term can feel like a lifetime. But the results of plastic surgery really do last a lifetime. So hang on in there and remind your child that this won’t last forever.
- Manage expectations
- Unrealistic goals are often quoted as the number one reason for dissatisfaction after plastic surgery – your child may be left even more disappointed and unhappy after undergoing the knife. Ask if surgery will really give them the look they want, and encourage them to be clear with their doctor and themselves as to what they’re hoping for.
- Be prepared
- Speak to a counsellor about the impact surgery would have on their life, look into recovery time and if they decide to go ahead, think about when surgery would best fit into their life.
For advice on how to speak to your child if they are being bullied, visit our guide here.
For a full, detailed breakdown on how to find a safe cosmetic surgeon and avoid potential health risks, read our guide here.