Research — 26 October 2012

New research suggests children diagnosed with mental health disorders are often the perpetrators of bullying.

Bullying has come to the fore in recent years as a type of youth violence defined as repetitive, intentional aggression that involves a disparity of power between the victim and perpetrator. A 2011 nationwide survey found 20 percent of U.S. high school students were bullied during the preceding 12 months.

In the new study, researchers discovered children with mental health disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies.

Although several studies have discovered that the victims of bullying are at increased risk for mental health illness and suicide, few studies have investigated the mental health status of those who do the bullying.

In the current study,  researchers reviewed data provided by parents and guardians on mental health and bullying. Investigators studied information pertaining to nearly 64,000 children from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health.

Researchers determined that in 2007, 15.2 percent of U.S. children were identified as bullies by a parent or guardian.

Overall, children with mental health disorders were three times more likely to bully other children.

A sub-analysis by type of mental health disorder found that children with a diagnosis of depression were three times more likely to bully, while a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) was associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of being identified as a bully.

“These findings highlight the importance of providing psychological support not only to victims of bullying, but to bullies as well,” said study author Frances G. Turcotte-Benedict, M.D.

“In order to create successful anti-bullying prevention and intervention programs, there certainly is a need for more research to understand the relationship more thoroughly, and especially, the risk profile of childhood bullies.”

As first appeared in Psych Central. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics


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