Factors that Predict Peer Victimization
Are youth, ages 9-14, with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a greater risk for peer victimization than their peers? Two researchers conducted a study to find out (Weiner & Mak, 2009). Standard predictive factors for peer victimization, such as social anxiety, oppositional behavior, and social skills, were examined as potential influencing agents that may increase a child’s risk for peer victimization, above and beyond symptoms of ADHD. Two sample groups of participants were assessed for these factors. One consisted of children with a verified diagnosis of ADHD, and the other consisted of children without a known diagnosis. Participants were asked to complete the Boer-Hersch (2002) adaptation of the Bully/Victim Questionnaire (BVC), a tool used to assess experiences of peer victimization in school. Connors’ (1997) CPRS was used to screen for predictors of peer victimization and the SSRS Parent and Teacher Forms (Gresham & Elliott, 1990) were used to assess the social skills of participants.
ADHD, Bully/Victim Behavior, and Gender Differences
Study results indicated that children with ADHD, especially girls, were more likely to report peer victimization than children in the comparison group (Weiner & Mak, 2009). Although the children’s self-reports did not reflect higher rates of bullying behavior among children with ADHD, the reports of parents and teachers indicated that these children were more likely than their peers to bully and threaten others. Essentially, Weiner & Mak noted that children with ADHD were more likely to be bullies, victims, and bully-victims, with 57% of participants in this group indicating some level of involvement in the bullying experience. The percentage figure was noteworthy when compared to only 13.6% in the comparison group reporting similar experiences. The researchers also indicated that girls with ADHD were more likely to have relational difficulties than boys with ADHD, a finding consistent with previous research.
What Clinicians Can Do
There are three important implications for clinicians arising from this study: (1) thorough investigation of social history and relational challenges present in children diagnosed with ADHD, (2) increased awareness about the prevalence of relational bullying, and (3) intervention programs that target relationship building in addition to the reduction of negative behaviors.
Boer-Hersh, M. (2002). Peer victimization and adjustment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto, Toronto.
Conners, C. K. (1997). Conners’ Rating Scales-Revised: Technical Manual. Multi-Health Systems, Inc.: Toronto.
Gresham, F. M., & Elliott, S. N. (1990). Social Skills Rating System manual. American Guidance Service Inc.: Circle Pines, MN.
Wiener, J., Mak, M., (2009). Peer victimization in children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 46 (2): p. 116-131.