Gainesville, Fla. -- Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder are three times more likely to be bullied than other children, and the name-slinging could cause symptoms of OCD to worsen, University of Florida researchers have found.
"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 UF assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and lead author of the study. "Kids target kids who are different. Kids with OCD sometimes exhibit behaviors that peers simply don't understand."
More than one-quarter of the children with OCD who researchers studied reported chronic bullying as a problem, according to findings described in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
By comparison, only 9 percent of kids in the two other groups researchers studied - healthy kids without medical or mental conditions and children with type 1 diabetes - reported serious problems with bullies.
Nearly all children are bullied at least once in their lives. But chronic bullying equates to about one taunt per day, ranging from kicking or hitting to name-calling or excluding children from activities in school.
"The kids with OCD are really experiencing higher rates of peer problems than other kids," Storch said. "We're not saying one causes the other, but there is a positive relationship between (OCD and bullying)."
About one in 100 children struggle with OCD, an anxiety disorder that leads people to engage in rituals such as hand washing to drive away obsessive thoughts about germs or other worries. Rituals often become so involved that they interfere with a person's ability to function, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
"Their day becomes filled with repeating behaviors," Storch said. "For a lot of kids, peers don't understand what is going on. They are isolated. They are ostr
Contact: April Frawley Birdwell
University of Florida