Children who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder are three times more likely than other children to be bullied, said University of Florida researchers. The study also said that bullying can make OCD symptoms more profound.
One of the things we have noticed working with many kids with OCD is that peer relations are extremely impaired, said Eric Storch, Ph.D, a U of Florida assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics. Kids target kids who are different. Kids with OCD sometimes exhibit behaviors that peers simply don't understand.
The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology revealed that more than 25 percent of children with OCD who researchers studied described chronic bullying as a problem compared to nine percent of healthy children.
One percent of children are afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a severe anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, illogical thinking, and rituals. Common rituals include hand-washing, counting, and checking doors. These rituals are futile attempts aimed at neutralizing anxiety.
The subject of bullying has been gaining momentum as more evidence emerges that bullying has lasting, debilitating effects on mental health and self-image, and as rates of eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder and suicides continue to rise.
As bullying magnifies genetic and environmental predisposing risk factors, bullied children often spend their adulthoods casting themselves in similar roles, further perpetuating the cycle.
Bullies relay messages to already-sensitive obsessive-compulsive children that they are inherently flawed. Repetitive unwanted thoughts, a core feature of OCD, magnify these false beliefs. Further, the more that an individual has a thought, the more powerful the thought becomes. For OCD victims, this creates a seemingly endless cycle of worry and anxiety.
A kind of neuroticism is cultivated in the child coupled with a growing desperation for acceptance. The child, malleable and young, becomes increasingly unable to distinguish between the big picture and the little one.
A recent survey by the charity Beat revealed that nearly half of all young people suffering from eating disorders blame bullying as a contributing factor to their illness, further suggesting a direct link.
Scandinavian researcher Dan Olweus said that bullying can be reduced by 50% through the implementation of school programs. His program has been applied throughout Norway and has yielded significant results. The program includes school-wide, classroom, and individual interventions.
Bullying, once just a part of growing up, has now gained national and worldwide media attention. Online resources such as BRAVE (Bullying Resources and Values Education) and Olweus have channeled a new era; the bully has finally been exposed.