As many as 20 percent of U.S. high school students admit to being bullied, and it makes sense that this could lead to depression or other mental health problems. But what about the kids doing the bullying?
A link might be possible there as well.
A study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference in October found that children diagnosed with mental health disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies than those without.
The mental health status of children who bully others hasn’t been much investigated, but when researchers looked at data on 64,000 children included in the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, they found that just over 15 percent of children were identified as bullies by a parent or guardian. Looking closer, they found that children diagnosed with depression were three times more likely to bully, while those diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder were six times more likely.
The study wasn’t able to determine whether the children’s mental health problems caused the bullying or vice-versa, but researchers note that a better understanding of the relationship between mental health and bullying – and the risk profile of childhood bullies – could lead to more effective anti-bullying programs.
“These findings highlight the importance of providing psychological support not only to victims of bullying, but to bullies as well,” says study author Frances G. Turcotte-Benedict, M.D., of Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI.