Being the target of bullying can cause a child to internalize and experience a decrease in self-worth. Many children who are victims of bullying become isolated and withdrawn, and often have a limited social circle of friends. “Because many of the correlates and predictors of peer victimization are common in children with ADHD, it is not surprising that children with ADHD are at elevated risk for peer victimization,” said Stephanie L. Cardoos of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. “Although more is known about risk factors for victimization than about protective factors, one well-established protective factor for those at risk of victimization is friendship.” Cardoos and her colleague Stephen P. Hinshaw recently conducted a study to determine what affect friendship would have on bullying. “The overall purpose is to understand factors that may both predict and protect against peer victimization in girls with ADHD, with a particular focus on friendship as a protective factor,” said Cardoos.
The researchers examined data from 228 girls between the ages of 6 and 12, half of whom had ADHD. The girls were evaluated by counselors at several points during a five week summer camp program and the girls listed who they considered to be their friends and which girls they did and did not like. The team found that all of the girls who were bullied exhibited similar symptoms, regardless of whether they had ADHD or not. “Our core finding was that the presence of a mutual friendship moderated the association between each behavioral risk factor and victimization, such that the presence of at least one friend reduced risk of victimization,” said Cardoos. “The current findings suggest that even for those who may be at elevated risk for deleterious peer effects, such as girls with ADHD, peers can play an important protective role.” She added, “If friends protect by intervening directly in challenging peer situations, it will be important for at-risk children to develop a friend in their natural peer group. In contrast, if friends are most important in increasing self-esteem, interventions outside of the natural peer group may be equally protective.”
Cardoos, Stephanie L., and Stephen P. Hinshaw. “Friendship as Protection from Peer Victimization for Girls with and without ADHD.” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 39.3 (2011): 1035-045. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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