Study Says Children with ADHD Experience Bullying at Higher Rates Than Their Peers

A new study from the Journal of Attention Disorders finds that children with ADHD experience bullying more than their neurotypical peers do — whether they’re being bullied, doing the bullying, or both. The study’s findings state that the risk of bullying or being bullied is “3–17 times greater than that of their neurotypical peers” — an increase that has been suggested in earlier analyses of ADHD, and also noted in children with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.

ADDitude magazine looked further into details of the research:

  • Researchers analyzed 199 childhood ADHD cases alongside 287 people without ADHD, and interviewed each study participant to learn about their elementary, middle, and/or high school experiences and whether “they classified themselves as ‘bully,’ ‘victim,’ ‘neither,’ or ‘both.’”
  • Here’s how the statistics (which ADDitude says were adjusted for gender) are broken down:
    • Kids with ADHD were 3.7 times more likely to be classified as victims only of bullying.
    • Kids with ADHD were 17.71 times more likely to be classified as both bullies and victims of bullying. 
    • Kids with ADHD were 8.17 times more likely to be classified as bullies only.

What about children who have other diagnoses in addition to ADHD?

  • In the case of participants who were classified as both victims and bullies, approximately 62% had a co-occurring diagnosis (such as anxiety, depression, learning disability, and more) in addition to ADHD. In participants who were only classified as bullies, the percentage of subjects with ADHD and another diagnosis was slightly higher at 64%. 
  • Participants who were classified as victims only, or as neither a victim or bully, were less likely to have another diagnosis in addition to ADHD.

How can this study help us improve the lives of children with ADHD?

The researchers say this connection suggests that bullying should be thought of as “a serious lifetime consequence of ADHD,” and that the support and treatment kids receive should reflect this. They note that we need to learn more about “complex ADHD” so that children with co-occurring disabilities receive the most effective kinds of support. If you and your child are navigating distance learning with ADHD, check out our articles about improving executive functioning skills at home and different ways we can help ease our kids’ anxieties.

Other news