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Kids with Mental Disorders Are Often the Bullies

New research suggests children diagnosed with mental health disorders are often the perpetrators of bullying.

Bullying has come to the fore in recent years as a type of youth violence defined as repetitive, intentional aggression that involves a disparity of power between the victim and perpetrator. A 2011 nationwide survey found 20 percent of U.S. high school students were bullied during the preceding 12 months.

In the new study, researchers discovered children with mental health disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies.

Although several studies have discovered that the victims of bullying are at increased risk for mental health illness and suicide, few studies have investigated the mental health status of those who do the bullying.

In the current study,  researchers reviewed data provided by parents and guardians on mental health and bullying. Investigators studied information pertaining to nearly 64,000 children from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health.

Researchers determined that in 2007, 15.2 percent of U.S. children were identified as bullies by a parent or guardian.

Overall, children with mental health disorders were three times more likely to bully other children.

A sub-analysis by type of mental health disorder found that children with a diagnosis of depression were three times more likely to bully, while a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) was associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of being identified as a bully.

“These findings highlight the importance of providing psychological support not only to victims of bullying, but to bullies as well,” said study author Frances G. Turcotte-Benedict, M.D.

“In order to create successful anti-bullying prevention and intervention programs, there certainly is a need for more research to understand the relationship more thoroughly, and especially, the risk profile of childhood bullies.”

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Kids with Mental Disorders Are Often the Bullies

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Kids with Mental Disorders Are Often the Bullies. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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