Children who are bullies or have conduct problems at school are more likely to be sleepy during the day according to University of Michigan Medical School researchers.
Researchers looked at elementary school students in the Ypsilanti, Michigan public schools who had exhibited conduct problems like bullying or discipline referrals and found that there was a two-fold higher risk for symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly daytime sleepiness among these students. The study was published last week in the journal Sleep Medicine.
“What this study does is raise the possibility that poor sleep, from whatever cause, can indeed play into bullying or other aggressive behaviors – a major problem that many schools are trying to address,” says Louise O’Brien, Ph.D., assistant professor in U-M’s Sleep Disorders Center and the departments of Neurology and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Kathy Adams reports that the defense attorney for a former student accused of a Columbine-style plot against a high school will plead that the young man was insane due to Bipolar Disorder and PTSD due to a history of child abuse and bullying:
Philip C. Bay, the former student accused of a plot against Landstown High School, began “the countdown to terror” on April 16, 2007, the day of the Virginia Tech massacre, Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant told jurors as Bay’s trial got underway Monday afternoon.
Bryant called Bay “the mastermind, the bomb-maker and the recruiter for this suicide mission,” and said Landstown notebooks, calendars and photos will help prove Bay set out to kill at least 30 people.
He read journal entries he said were Bay’s, including this: “I will be armed to the teeth with guns, knives and everything else. I will kill, kill, kill. You have my word.”
An attorney helping defend Bay, Eric Korslund, said the defense will argue he was insane at the time of the crimes. He suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder from being bullied and abused as a child, he said.
Bay’s attorney, James Broccoletti, said during jury selection that Bay’s mental condition was the central issue.
“The defense is that Philip Bay was legally insane at the time of the acts alleged in the indictment,” Broccoletti told potential jurors. “That means that because of a mental disease or defect, he did not understand the nature, the character or the consequences of his actions or could not understand right from wrong.”
Bay was 17 when he was charged in 2009 in connection with what authorities called a plot against the school. He faces 11 counts of manufacturing or possessing an explosive device with intent to cause harm; possessing a weapon of terrorism with intent to terrorize; two counts of possessing a sawed-off shotgun; soliciting or recruiting for an act of terrorism; and committing, conspiring or aiding in the commission of an act of terrorism.
Read more on Hampton Roads.
Bipolar Disorder can, in severe forms, be accompanied by psychotic thinking. But if planning took place over time measured in weeks or longer, I think the defense has its work cut out for it if it plans to claim that at no point was the young man sane and fully aware that what he was planning to do was wrong.
I’d really be curious to read any psychiatric or psychological evaluation of the defendant conducted at the time of his arrest.
More information on the use of the insanity defense in Virginia can be found here. He may wind up being incarcerated for longer than he might for a straight prison sentence, depending….
Medical News Today reports:
Bullying and being bullied have become a part of life for a considerable proportion of American high school children, according to the largest study ever which examined attitudes and conduct in the USA. The study, created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, reports that 47% of high school kids said that they were bullied to the point of becoming“seriously upset” over the last 12 months, while 50% admitted to bullying somebody. 43,321 schoolchildren responded to the survey. According to the Institute, their findings have a margin of error of no more than one percent.
You can read more of their coverage here.
In related news, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter, reminding schools of their obligations under various federal laws to address harassment and bullying. In the letter, they review applicable federal laws and provide hypothetical examples of violations. Here’s the example they provide for disability harassment (Section 504 and Title II):
Several classmates repeatedly called a student with a learning disability “stupid,” “idiot,” and “retard” while in school and on the school bus. On one occasion, these students tackled him, hit him with a school binder, and threw his personal items into the garbage. The student complained to his teachers and guidance counselor that he was continually being taunted and teased. School officials offered him counseling services and a psychiatric evaluation, but did not discipline the offending students. As a result, the harassment continued. The student, who had been performing well academically, became angry, frustrated, and depressed, and often refused to go to school to avoid the harassment.
In this example, the school failed to recognize the misconduct as disability harassment under Section 504 and Title II. The harassing conduct included behavior based on the student’s disability, and limited the student’s ability to benefit fully from the school’s education program (e.g., absenteeism). In failing to investigate and remedy the misconduct, the school did not comply with its obligations under Section 504 and Title II.
Counseling may be a helpful component of a remedy for harassment. In this example, however, since the school failed to recognize the behavior as disability harassment, the school did not adopt a comprehensive approach to eliminating the hostile environment. Such steps should have at least included disciplinary action against the harassers, consultation with the district’s Section 504/Title II coordinator to ensure a comprehensive and effective response, special training for staff on recognizing and effectively responding to harassment of students with disabilities, and monitoring to ensure that the harassment did not resume.
The American Psychological Associated issued a press release last week on some new research concerning predicting who will become a victim of bullying, a bully, or both. The findings may surprise you:
Children and adolescents who lack social problem-solving skills are more at risk of becoming bullies, victims or both than those who don’t have these difficulties, says new research published by the American Psychological Association. But those who are also having academic troubles are even likelier to become bullies.
“This is the first time we’ve overviewed the research to see what individual and environmental characteristics predict the likelihood of becoming a bully, victim or both,” said lead author Clayton R. Cook, PhD, of Louisiana State University. “These groups share certain characteristics, but they also have unique traits. We hope this knowledge will help us better understand the conditions under which bullying occurs and the consequences it may have for individuals and the other people in the same settings. Ultimately, we want to develop better prevention and intervention strategies to stop the cycle before it begins.”
Bruce Bower of U.S. News & World reports:
There’s nothing fair about getting bullied at school. To add insult to injury, a new study finds that bullied kids who happen to have inherited one form of a stress-related gene develop the most emotional problems.
Symptoms of anxiety, depression and social withdrawal appeared most often in regularly bullied kids who possessed two copies of a short version of the 5-HTT gene, says a team led by psychologist Karen Sugden of Duke University in Durham, N.C.
One-third of bullied children who had two shorter copies of the gene displayed emotional problems severe enough to merit mental health treatment, the researchers say. That figure fell to 29 percent for regularly bullied kids carrying one short copy of the gene and 15 percent for those with two long copies.
Frequent bullying victims with two copies of the short gene displayed emotional problems by age 12. They accumulated an average of six or seven new symptoms of anxiety, depression and social withdrawal during the study.
Read the whole article on U.S. News & World Report.