Be­ing clever at school ‘raises risk of bul­ly­ing’

Daily Mail - - Brexit In Crisis - Daily Mail Re­porter

IN­TEL­LI­GENT chil­dren face a greater risk of be­ing bul­lied at school, ac­cord­ing to a study.

Oth­ers more likely to be tar­geted in­cluded those with de­pres­sion or at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD), as well as those who were over­weight.

One of the re­searchers, Pro­fes­sor JeanBap­tiste Pin­gault, of Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, said iden­ti­fy­ing these traits is essen­tial to pre­vent the prob­lem, which can have ‘ad­verse con­se­quences’ for life.

The find­ings were based on re­sponses from 5,000 par­tic­i­pants – roughly half boys, half girls – in the Avon Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Par­ents and Chil­dren, which has been track­ing fam­i­lies since the early 1990s.

A to­tal of 87 per cent re­ported some form of bul­ly­ing at least once at the ages of eight, ten and 13.

The av­er­age was twice, with the strong­est links con­nected to mood such as symp­toms of de­pres­sion, along with in­tel­li­gence and ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment. Ex­pe­ri­ences ranged from ‘overt’ in­ci­dents such as hav­ing per­sonal be­long­ings taken to ‘re­la­tional’ bul­ly­ing such as ex­clu­sion by peers, the jour­nal JAMA Psy­chi­a­try re­ported.

The re­searchers used a tech­nique called poly­genic risk scor­ing to cal­cu­late peo­ple’s

‘Early men­tal health care’

chance of be­ing bul­lied based on ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties such as de­pres­sion and traits such as in­tel­li­gence.

Pro­fes­sor Pin­gault said: ‘The largest as­so­ci­a­tions were present for ge­netic risk re­lat­ing to men­tal health vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing di­ag­no­sis of de­pres­sion and ADHD, fol­lowed by risk-tak­ing, body mass in­dex and in­tel­li­gence.’

Lead au­thor Dr Tabea Schoeler said: ‘The main take­away point is that men­tal health vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties can in­crease the risk of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bul­ly­ing and it is an ar­gu­ment for early men­tal health care.’

An ear­lier study by the same team found ev­i­dence that bul­ly­ing leads to men­tal health prob­lems such as in­creases in lev­els of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and hy­per­ac­tiv­ity.

Dr Schoeler said: ‘Our fol­low-up now high­lights that re­peated ex­po­sure to bul­ly­ing can be in­ter­rupted by ad­dress­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that can put an in­di­vid­ual at risk of be­com­ing a vic­tim in the first place.’

Sur­veys have shown half of pri­mary school pupils and one in ten sec­ondary pupils in Eng­land ex­pe­ri­ence daily bul­ly­ing.

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