Psychiatric and Learning Disorders Common in Students Who Make School Threats

Upon assessment of students who make threats towards others at school, half had history of medication treatment and one-third had psychotherapeutic interventions.

HealthDay News Students who make threats toward others at school have diverse psychiatric profiles and often do not receive recommended treatments, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Deborah M. Weisbrot, M.D., from Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues assessed characteristics of students who make threats toward others at school. The analysis included child and adolescent psychiatry threat assessment evaluations of 157 consecutive school-referred youths in kindergarten through grade 12 between 1998 and 2019.

Researchers found that the mean age of referred students was 13.37 years, 88.5% were male, 79.7% were White, and 51.6% were receiving special education services. Nearly half had a history of being bullied (43.4%), 52.2% had traumatic family events, and 5.1% experienced physical abuse, 5.7% sexual abuse, and 36.3% verbal abuse. Psychiatric diagnoses most commonly included attention-deficit/hyperactivity, learning, depressive, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorders, usually in combinations. Half had a history of medication treatment (50.3%) and one-third had psychotherapeutic interventions (36.3%), even though recommendations were made for psychotherapy (79.9%), medication (88.5%), or both (70.1%) more often.

“Psychiatric evaluation of students who issue threats of any type can lead to revelations about psychiatric diagnoses and crucial treatment and educational recommendations,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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