Is there a link between ADHD and bullying?


It is highly unlikely that ADHD symptoms will go unnoticed in a school environment. ADHD may inhibit your child's understanding of social cues, which can have a negative impact on everyday conversations and interactions. This may lead to them being excluded from social circles, and this can quickly make your child feel ostracised by their peers, adding on to their feelings of isolation and depression. It can also gain the attraction of bullies. Let's unpack that.

Also read: Is your child being bullied? Here's how to check

The ripple effect of bullying

Bullying can affect your child's academic performance and participation. Over 3.2 million South African children are bullied yearly, but more than 67% never report it because they are fearful or ashamed.

Bullies tend to prey on children that exert physical weakness and poor social skills. Research shows that ADHD children are nearly 10 times more likely to attract the attention of bullies. By retaliating, they seem to keep adding fuel to the fire for the bullies. 

The bully?

However, children with ADHD are almost four times more likely to bully other children. This may be because of low self-esteem, or a response to being victimised themselves. 

Also read: When ADHD gets dangerous

The impact

Bullying has a lasting impact on victims, whichcan affect their future emotional, mental and physical issues. Victims of bullying may also have a heightened sense of insecurity, anxiety, depression, loneliness, poor sleeping and eating patterns in addition to their ADHD symptoms. 

If your child is the bully, they are more likely to engage in physical fights or risky activities.

How can you help?

Parents need to be assertive and communicate with teachers about how to combat the situation. When an issue is raised, solutions will be made to help ease the anxieties of those who are being bullied or are doing the bullying. 

1. Monitor the relationships and interactions with peers. 

2. Enforce an anti-bullying code of conduct or strategies.

3. Elect peer mediators and teach them strategies and resolution methods.

4. Identify what provokes victimisation.

5. Help them make friends.

Also read: Does your school have an effective anti-bullying strategy?

The impact of bullying caused by a lack of knowledge or frustration towards ADHD can be resolved. Teachers and parents can come together to create a bully-free and memorable, happy childhood.

What ways do you think schools can implement anti-bullying campaigns to help children with ADHD? Share your thoughts and stories by emailing and we may publish your story.

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