Study Links Bullying and Mental Disorders

Depression, anxiety, ADHD and ODD makes kids more likely to become bullies. A new study has linked bullying and mental disorders, showing there’s a bigger picture to what turn a kid into a bully.

As bullying is on the rise, scientists are trying to see what makes kids react like that. A study presented this Monday in New Orleans found a link between bullying and mental disorders. Kids with depression, ADHD and anxiety are three times more likely to become bullies, while children with ODD are six times more prone to initiate acts of bullying.

“There is a larger story behind why children bully” explained Dr. Frances Turcotte-Benedict, study author. “And part of that story may include the diagnosis of a mental health disorder”. “Both boys and girls with a diagnosis of any mental health disorder are more likely to be bullies” the researcher added. “However, when you look at gender and mental health disorders alone, white, non-Hispanic boys were more likely than girls to be diagnosed”.

Researchers with Brown University took an in-depth look at a survey answered by parents of about 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 with mental health disorders. About 15 percent of the kids were identified as bullies. Mental disorders such as depression, ADHD, anxiety and ODD were linked to children that bully.

Kids with ODD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder were six times more likely to become bullies. The mental health disorder is commonly characterized by kids throwing tantrums and aggressively looking for revenge. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, ODD is a disorder that currently impact between 1 to 16 percent of all children of school age.

Experts not involved with the research say they were not surprised to find there was a connection between mental disorders such as ADHD and bullying. “Even though, by definition, these children aren’t angry or aggressive toward their peers, they do display traits that would increase the likelihood of having impaired social interactions” dr. Steven Mayers told Huffington Post.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that only 20 percent of the 1 in 5 children and teens with a mental health disorder actually get treatment. Turcotte-Benedict added that the study shows the there’s a “need to assess bullying prevention programs for their effect on children with mental health disorders and whether psychological support for these children has any impact on bullying behavior”.

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