Are ADHD Students More Likely to Bully, Be Bullied?

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In the wake of a number of suicides by adolescents and teenagers, newspapers and online news sites invested significant space to address the devastating impact of bullying on struggling young people.

Once viewed as an unavoidable (and relatively harmless) aspect of growing up, bullying is now being discussed in a more critical light as awareness increases about the prevalence and the impact of this destructive practice.

Though learning differences and behavior disorders do not appear to have played a significant role in the most recent bullying-related suicides, research indicates that students who have been diagnosed with (or exhibit symptoms related to) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be at increased risk for being bullied.

In 2008, Swedish researchers tracked the behavior and experiences of the entire fourth grade of a small Stockholm-area town. Their insights into the 577 young students led these researchers to conclude that children with ADHD are at increased risk for being bullied. These students are also more likely to be bullies themselves.

A separate study – this one conducted by researchers associated with the Children’s Institute in Rochester, N.Y. – looked at the prevalence of bullying among young people with autism and ADHD. Highlights of this study included the following:

The researchers offered three reasons why autistic children with ADHD may be more likely to bully other students: