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Children at Risk of Depression and ADHD More Likely to Be Bullied

ADHD bullying 463Children at risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression and ADHD are more likely to be bullied, according to scientists.

The researchers studied 5,028 children of European ancestry from the Avon region of the U.K., who were taking part in the 14,062-participant Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The participants were born between April 1, 1991, and December 31, 1992.

The authors of the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, defined bullying as “repeated, intentional aggression by a more powerful bully against a less powerful individual,” and highlighted as many as one in five adolescents suffer physical or verbal abuse.

Dr. Tabea Schoeler, a research associate in the Faculty of Brain Sciences at University College London who co-authored the study, told Newsweek: “Compared to previous investigations, this study investigated more systematically the individual vulnerabilities and traits contributing to bullying victimization. We used genetically informed designs to better identify these individual vulnerabilities and traits.”

The children filled out questionnaires on bullying at the ages of 8, 10 and 13. The researchers used this data to score how much bullying the children encountered on average. The participants were asked whether they had been bullied in the past six months, including overt actions such having their personal items stolen or being purposefully excluded by other children. Researchers also studied the children’s genetic information.

Kids who were at the greatest risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were also more likely to be bullied, the team found. Children with a high BMI, likely meaning they were overweight, also had a higher chance of being targeted.

That could be because children with depression are more likely to become internalized, while those with ADHD could have externalizing symptoms, which respectively make them a target for bullies, the authors said.

However, children at higher risk of developing bipolar disorder, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder or demonstrating neuroticism did not have a greater chance of being picked on. That might be because the symptoms of conditions such as bipolar don’t develop until early adulthood, the authors argued. Higher intelligence, meanwhile, was linked to a lower risk of being bullied.

“Particularly interesting is the fact that the identified factors mainly relate to mental health vulnerabilities,” Schoeler said.

Excerpted from “Children at Risk of Depression and ADHD More Likely to Be Bullied” in Newsweek online. Read the full article to learn more about this study and the findings.

Source: Newsweek | Children at Risk of Depression and ADHD More Likely to Be Bullied, https://www.newsweek.com/children-risk-depression-and-adhd-more-likely-be-bullied-1384498 | © 2019 Newsweek

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