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Why the ADHD Surge and Punishment of Black Students Could Be Linked

A recent CDC report reveals that 1 in 9 U.S. children are diagnosed with ADHD, reflecting a rise since 2016 and a growing understanding of the disorder. However, Black children are more likely to face school punishment for behaviors that resemble ADHD symptoms and are less likely to receive treatment compared to white children. Sharif El-Mekki, founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development, highlights that Black children are often misdiagnosed with severe psychological problems or not diagnosed at all. The CDC report found that nearly 80% of children with ADHD have co-occurring issues like anxiety or conduct problems. Despite similar diagnosis rates between Black and white children, Black children receive poorer-quality care and are more likely to disengage from treatment. El-Mekki stresses the role of cultural incompetence among predominantly white educators, unequal resources, and lack of access to culturally relevant counselors, exacerbating the issue.

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