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Mental Illness Among Child Bullies

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The tragic Newtown, Conn. shooting has brought mental illness to the forefront once again. Recognizing and treating mental disorders in children is important for many reasons. Here’s an article that discusses the prevalence of mental conditions among child bullies.

Mental Illness Among Child Bullies

A study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference in October found that children diagnosed with mental health disorders were three times more likely to be identified as bullies than those without.

A better understanding of the relationship between mental health and bullying – and the risk profile of childhood bullies – could lead to more effective anti-bullying programs.

In order to treat a mental illness, it must first be identified. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 20 percent of American children suffer from a diagnosable mental condition. Yet, many parents are unable to recognize the signs. It’s a natural tendency to overlook symptoms because parents want their children to be “okay.”

Here are a few signs that could indicate a young child has a mental health disorder. If you suspect your child may have a mental condition, speak to your child’s pediatrician as these signs could indicate a completely different issue, such as a sleep disorder.

  • Behavior problems in preschool or daycare
  • Hyperactivity that is much more extreme than other active children
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares that continue night after night
  • Child is extremely fearful or constantly worries and cries
  • Overly aggressive behavior in that the child hurts others or animals
  • Non-stop temper tantrums
  • Extreme separation anxiety from a parent that goes on for several months

Older children (grade school and above) may exhibit extreme unexplained weight loss, become withdrawn from friends, use drugs, experience a sudden drop in grades or a loss of interest of the things they once enjoyed.

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