ADHD Kids Might Make for Bigger Bullies
> 2/4/2008 2:52:59 PM

Bullying is a cyclical phenomenon: the child who suffersthe wrath of his peers is more likely to take out his own violent urgeson smaller or less capable classmates. Call it a very twisted sort ofrevenge. But new researchimplies that bullies and their victims are even more closelyintertwined than we'd been led to believe. Researchers have discoveredthat the kids who can't sit still, pay attention, or conform to basicsocial standards are far more likely to both attract abuse and dish itout.

So do bullies, victims and ADHD form an unholy co-dependent triad?Researchers in Stockholm followed more than 500 fourth-graders for oneyear. After interviewing parents and teachers, referring problem kidsto neurologists for diagnoses and asking the children themselves aboutbullies, researchers found that those with ADHD symptoms and positivediagnoses were more than 4 times as likely to become bullies and ashocking 10 times as likely to suffer from the same.

Does theabuse encourage ADHD? It's a dubious proposition, but a child sufferingfrom particularly brutal abuse at the hands of a bully could veryconceivably have a harder time concentrating in class. And, in turn,bully-ish behavior may be the most obvious incarnation of theimpulsivity and lack of self-control so common to ADHD patients. Thefact that affected students often have trouble establishing socialnetworks, feel isolated at school and end up forming their own smallercliques more prone to misbehavior and substance abuse also supports the"ADHD makes bullies" theory. Some of the bitterness accumulated bythese future tormentors stems from the fact that other students mostlikely mocked their academic and behavioral difficulties in theclassroom. This study thankfully counters the stereotype of a bully asa single-minded aggressor motivated only by his (or her) own desire toinflict pain. The kids who punch, trip and tease in the halls and onthe playground may very well suffer far worse at home. Previous researchhas also noted that autistic children are more likely to bully theirpeers, but only if their condition also includes ADHD symptoms.

Whatcan concerned parents do? At what age is parental intervention a goodidea? And do the parents of every ADHD child need to worry that theirson or daughter will be pushing, punching and taunting other kids onthe playground? First, parents should consider the fact that a majorityof students will encounter, at the very least, light bullying oruninvited insults from fellow students at some point in their longjourney through the school system. By no means is every ADHD childguaranteed to give or receive such abuse. But if children receive earlyADHD diagnoses, they warrant increased attention�behavioralabnormalities could compromise their school experiences as well asthose of their classmates.

Unfortunately, the concludingrecommendations of this and other studies are vague and familar:develop greater lines of communication between parents, teachers, andschool officials to determine the path most beneficial to affectedkids; develop a careful framework to better organize their daily livesand allow for less unstructured time that could potentially be used in,let's say, unconstructive ways; combine family therapy and medicationto remedy the bullies' behavioral problems. Ritalin, sadly, cannotcounter aggression (some would argue that its stated benefits arequestionable at best). And a good punch in the nose is likely toinspire only the same in response. We can't protect our children fromevery minor slight they might suffer at the hands of their peers. Sothe hallways just aren't safe nowadays...but then they never reallywere.

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