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Understanding bullying and its impact on kids with learning disabilities or AD/HD

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By Marlene Snyder, Ph.D.

Gender Differences in Bullying

Most scientific research on bullying has focused on boys. Books that address bullying in girls are starting to appear, but most are written from the personal experience of the authors rather than from scientific research projects. New studies are underway that will help us better understand the dynamics of gender differences in bullying. This is what is currently understood about gender differences in bullying:

  • Boys tend to bully with direct physical or verbal aggression.
  • Bullying by girls is more difficult to observe. Girls tend to bully with indirect or "sneaky" means of harassment such as social isolation or covert aggression such as spreading rumors or manipulating the friendship relations within the class (e.g., depriving a girl of her "best friend" ).
  • Boys who bully tend to be older than their victims (whether the victims are boys or girls).
  • Girl bullies tend to target other girls who are the same age.
  • Girls are more likely to be bullied by a group, which is emotionally devastating.
  • Girls are more likely to involve both boys and girls in their bullying pursuits against a victim.
  • Boys identify their aggressive behaviors against victims as "bullying" more often than girls.

Adult Intervention is Key

For most children, bullying experiences will be nothing more than an unpleasant childhood memory. But for those who are more severely bullied, the pain runs deep. Because their days and weeks are filled with fear, humiliation, and pain inflicted by bullies, they find it difficult to concentrate and participate in class. Kids who are bullied are often absent from school. They are lonely and may become depressed or lash out at their bullies in violent ways.

Bullies who are not stopped are more likely to have criminal records in young adulthood than youth who don't bully. Bullying, therefore, is a serious problem for both the bully and the victim. Both bullies and victims need positive adult intervention to make the bullying stop. Remember that bullying is a learned behavior that can - with adult intervention - be prevented or stopped!

Whether your child is a bully, victim, or bystander, there are steps you can take to coach him toward more positive behavior.

Comments from readers

"i have a student in PS MS 219 and she is being bullied over and over again the school does nothing about it. i know it is serious and something needs to be done. when do staff start doing something to protect our children. "
"My daughter is being bullied and the school won't do anything about it, but deny, deny, deny. She gose to Gant in CA. WHAT SHOULD I DO? WHAT CAN I DO? She is ADHD and no one wants to help or even try to stop it. I cant stay at her school all day and watch out for her. It's not like I'm there, what can a perent do to stop something that is happening in an environment they have no control over? Now I'm forest with an ultimatum, to pout her in Bixsby, or have her retained in the same school.???HELP!!! "
"I have found this article very helpfull! Our child was exposed to such a situation "
"Bullying is so horrible. To All the kids who are bulling, Just stop You do realize that your causing kids to suicide themselves because of you.. Kids who are getting bullied just keep reaching for the stars and ignore them...... "
"In my ELA class we have to write a persausive essay about something and I chose bullying.I chose it because its very serious I see it just about everyday at school. "
"this is a vcery god article this article can be for chidern too. I made my oldest daughter read this for her homework and she told me"mom this is a good articl it show me anyone can bully." "
"Eileen Connors Elementary allowed bullying to occur since Kindergarden throughout Fifth grade and to and more insult he would be the one always separated from his class and moved which increase his tormenters to the point of rock throwing and painting our garage doors with chocholate syrup. The sadness is slowly fading but I left Las Vegas Nevada. How can teachers look the other way, or move the injured party constantly as their only true solution. Let's just say my son is smart yet was not learning. It begins at the school level and most be stopped as soon as it starts as it is in NYC. "
"Bullying is a huge issue that effected both me and my child. What I think needs to be addressed is the fact that children whom bully are typically taught by example from their parents. I have found that addressing the issue with the other kids parents frequently validates the attack! It's a no win situation that can only be solved by removal from the environment and legal action. When you tell a bully that you are upset because of somethuing they did, from the bullys point of view 1) They are not the ones with the problem and 2) They think they are entitled .... Good luck to anyone with this problem - and - take it seriously. Bullying has devastating consequences for the victim, and is tolerated way too much. "
"bullying is very serious"