Want one reason why medications alone are not enough to treat ADHD? Taking a pill everyday won’t teach a child to control urges, nor will it facilitate the development of interpersonal skills. As children with disorders like ADHD grow older and form intimate relationships, they need to be able to learn how to cope with difficulties and resolve conflicts. Otherwise, they may have difficulty forming significant relationships or worse, perpetrate intimate partner violence (IPV) when they do. In fact, new study discovered that this form of domestic violence is linked to childhood ADHD and adolescents with conduct disorder.
“Intimate partner violence” is a new term that describes physical, psychological, or sexual harm done to a person by a current or former spouse or intimate partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IPV is responsible for over 2 million injuries and 1,500 deaths in the United States alone. IPV falls under three categories.
· Physical violence is when a person intentionally uses physical force to cause physical harm, injury, disability, or death. “Physical force” includes punching, shoving, slapping, or using weapons or one’s size against the other.
· Psychological or emotional violence is when a person uses acts, threats, or coercive tactics like isolating the victim, humiliating the victim, or denying the victim access to basic resources like money. Usually, emotional violence is preceded by other forms of IPV.
· Sexual violence is further divided into three groups – using physical force to engage in a sexual act; attempting or completing a sexual act on a person who is unable to decline due to disability, illness, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and abusive sexual relations.
Several studies have looked at possible risk factors for IPV, but only recently did researchers take a look at its association with ADHD symptoms. This study, which was published in the November Issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, involved looking at 1994-1995 data from 11,283 participants from Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They were in grades 7 to 12 at the time of the study. They were given follow-up interviews on April and August 1996, and again on August and April 2002. During these follow-up interviews, they were asked questions about their romantic and sexual relationships in the last 6 years, including questions of IPV perpetration. The respondents also gave self-reports of the ADHD symptoms they experienced in childhood. The final results revealed that 27.1% reported perpetrating acts of IPV; 8.4% had ADHD symptoms and 12.4% had conduct disorder symptoms.
While having ADHD does not guarantee that a child will grow up to perpetrate IPV, it’s important for ADHD kids to learn social skills and coping skills so that he or she can maintain healthy relationships throughout life. Additionally, ADHD must be treated as soon as it is discovered. Besides IPV, children with untreated ADHD are at an increased risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy later in life.