Bullying Victimization of Children with Mental, Emotional, and Developmental or Behavioral (MEDB) Disorders in the United States


Though preventable, children with disabilities have a high risk of victimization, contributing to worsening health conditions. Hence, this study examined the exposure of school-age children with mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral (MEDB) disorder to bully victimization. This study used the 2018 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) data of 23,494 children ages 5–17 to estimate multilevel logistic regression with fixed and random effects. Children’s health conditions were treated as level one variables, while family poverty level and neighborhood characteristics such as vandalism and presence/absence of recreational centers were treated as level two variables. The paper presents the prevalence of bullying victimization among children with at least one disorder (MDBB = 39.5%), anxiety (20.6%), depression (10.8%), ADD/ADHD (18.3%), behavioral problems (14.9%), learning disability (11.9%), Tourette syndrome (0.5%), developmental delay (10.1%), Autism spectrum disorder (4.6%), speech disorder (10.7), and intellectual disability (1.6%), respectively. Bullying victimization was positively associated with anxiety (AOR = 1.995, 95% CI = 1.634–2.436), depression (AOR = 2.688, 95% CI = 2.031–3.557), developmental delay (AOR = 1.804, 95% CI = 1.422–2.288), but inversely associated with Autism spectrum disorder (AOR = 0.614, 95% CI = 0.399–0.946). Neighborhood disorganization and poverty were also associated with bullying victimization. The NSCH data suggests that children with disabilities in the US had a higher prevalence rate of victimization. Consequently, effective bullying prevention strategies that can protect and improve children’s quality of life with special needs should be prioritized.

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Data Availability

All data and supporting documentation are publicly available from Data Resources Center for Child & Adolescent Health. https://www.childhealthdata.org/dataset.


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    For guide to topics and questions asked during the survey, please visit https://www.childhealthdata.org/learn-about-the-nsch/topics_questions/2018-nsch-guide-to-topics-and-questions

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    Vital documentation for 2018 National Survey of Children’s Health can be found here: https://www.childhealthdata.org/learn-about-the-nsch/methods.

    Source and Accuracy Statement: and https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/nsch/technical-documentation/source-and-accuracy/2018-NSCH-Source-and-Accuracy-Statement.pdf


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Correspondence to Ayodeji Emmanuel Iyanda.

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Figure S1

Slection and inclusion of participants in the survey (Source: U. S Census Bureau, 2019) (PNG 354 kb)

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Iyanda, A.E. Bullying Victimization of Children with Mental, Emotional, and Developmental or Behavioral (MEDB) Disorders in the United States. Journ Child Adol Trauma (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-021-00368-8

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  • Bullying victimization
  • Child health
  • Multilevel
  • Disabilities
  • Adolescent
  • Medical geography