Hassan Maajeeny


Education in Saudi Arabia, including the education of children with special needs, is developing rapidly. However, children with emotional and behavioral disorders are neither consistently identified nor adequately served in Saudi Arabia although they are recognized as a distinct category of children who require special education services. The goal of this study was to examine the prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders among children in Saudi Arabia to assess the need for intervention services to help those children reach their potential. The current research identified the types of behaviors that are most evident in the study sample. Also, the relationship between demographics and emotional and behavioral disorders is studied to identify possible predictors of disruptive forms of behavior. Parents of children aged 4-17 years in Saudi Arabia were surveyed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The findings of the study suggest that children with emotional and behavioral disorders in Saudi Arabia may account for 20% of the population of children between the ages of 4 and 17. The findings also revealed that over 20% of children in Saudi Arabia have difficulties in peer relationship and lack the necessary prosocial behaviors. The parent reporting, child gender, child education type, the geographical region, the father’s education level, and the family’s socioeconomic status were found to be statistically significant predictors of children difficulties. However, these predictors were only able to explain a small portion of the difficulty scores.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter



special education, prevalence screening, emotional/behavioral disorders, parents, Saudi Arabia

Full Text:



Abdel-Fattah, M., Asal, A., Al-Asmary, S., Al-Helali, N., Al-Jabban, T., & Arafa, M. (2004). Emotional and behavioral problems among male Saudi schoolchildren and adolescents: Prevalence and risk factors. German Journal of Psychiatry, 7(1), 1-9.

Adriaanse, M., van Domburgh, L., Zwirs, B., Doreleijers, T., & Veling, W. (2015). School-based screening for psychiatric disorders in Moroccan-Dutch youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9(1), 1-13.

Al-Modayfer, O., & Alatiq, Y. (2015). A pilot study on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Saudi children and adolescents: A sample from a selected community in Riyadh city. The Arab Journal of Psychiatry, 26(2), 184-192.

Al-Mousa, N., Al-Saratawi, Z., Al-Abduljabbar, A., Al-Batal, Z., & Al-Husain, A. (2008). The national study to evaluate the experience of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in mainstreaming students with special educational needs in public schools. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Education.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

Alyahri, A., & Goodman, R. (2006). Validation of the Arabic strengths and difficulties questionnaire and the development and well-being assessment. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 12(2), 138-146.

Barber, B., Stolz, H., Olsen, J., Collins, W., & Burchinal, M. (2005). Parental support, psychological control, and behavioral control: Assessing relevance across time, culture, and method. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 70(4), I-147. Retrieved from

Barker, P. J. (2011). Mental health ethics: The human context. New York, NY: Routledge.

Berger, K. S. (2003). The developing person through childhood and adolescence. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

Brauner, C., & Stephens, C. (2006). Estimating the prevalence of early childhood serious emotional/behavioral disorders: Challenges and recommendations. Public Health Reports, 121(3), 303-310.

Brendtro, L., & Shahbazian, M. (2004). Troubled children and youth: Turning problems into opportunities. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Caspi, A., Henry, B., McGee, R., Moffitt, T., & Silva, P. (1995). Temperamental origins of child and adolescent behavior problems: From age three to age fifteen. Child development, 66(1), 55-68.

Conroy, M., & Brown, W. (2004). Early identification, prevention, and early intervention with young children at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders: Issues, trends, and a call for action. Behavioral Disorders, 29(3), 224-236.

Cooper, J. L., Masi, R., & Vick, J. (2009). Social-emotional development in early childhood: what every policymaker should know. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty.

Cullinan, D. (2004). Classification and definition of emotional and behavioral disorders. In R. Rutherford, M. Quinn, & S. Mathur (Eds.), Handbook of research in emotional and behavioral disorders (pp. 32-53). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Eapen, V., Al-Sabosy, M., Saeed, M., & Sabri, S. (2004). Child psychiatric disorders in a primary care Arab population. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 34(1), 51-60.

Eapen, V., Jakka, M., & Abou-Saleh, M. (2003). Children with psychiatric disorders: The Al Ain community psychiatric survey. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 48(6), 402-407.

Faugier, J., & Sargeant, M. (1997). Sampling hard to reach populations. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26(4), 790-797.

Forness, S., & Knitzer, J. (1992). A new proposed definition and terminology to replace" serious emotional disturbance" in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. School Psychology Review, 21(1), 12-20.

Fuchs, S., Klein, A., Otto, Y., & Klitzing, K. (2013). Prevalence of emotional and behavioral symptoms and their impact on daily life activities in a community sample of 3 to 5-year-old children. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 44(4), 493-503.

General Authority for Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from

Glascoe, F. (2003). Parents' evaluation of developmental status: How well do parents' concerns identify children with behavioral and emotional problems?. Clinical pediatrics, 42(2), 133-138.

Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 38(5), 581-586.

Goodman, R. (2001). Psychometric properties of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(11), 1337-1345.

Harrison, J., Vannest, K., & Reynolds, C. (2013). Social acceptability of five screening instruments for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Behavioral Disorders, 38(3) 171-189.

Hinshaw, S., & Lee, S. (2003). Conduct and oppositional defiant disorders (E. Mash & R. Barkley, Eds.). In Child Psychopathology (2nd ed., pp. 144-198). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Hussein, S. (2008). Behavioral problems among children attending private and community schools in Karachi, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 23(1-2), 1-11.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004).

Kauffman, J., & Landrum, T. (2013). Characteristics of emotional and behavioraldisorders of children and youth (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Kauffman, J., Mock, D., & Simpson, R. (2007). Problems related to underservice of students with emotional or behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 33(1), 43-57.

Lane, K., Kalberg, J., Lambert, E., Crnobori, M., & Bruhn, A. (2010). A comparison of systematic screening tools for emotional and behavioral disorders: A replication. Journal of emotional and behavioral disorders, 18(2). 100-112.

Luiselli, J., Putnam, R., Handler, M., & Feinberg, A. (2005). Whole‐school positive behavior support: Effects on student discipline problems and academic performance. Educational Psychology, 25(2-3), 183-198.

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). The General Department of Special Education. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from

Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from

Magoon, A. J. (1977). Constructivist approaches in educational research. Review of educational research, 47(4), 651-693.

Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., Silva, P., & Stanton, W. (1996). Childhood-onset versus adolescent-onset antisocial conduct problems in males: Natural history from ages 3 to 18 years. Development and psychopathology, 8(2), 399-424.

Molina, B. S., & Pelham, W. E. (2003). Childhood predictors of adolescent substance use in a longitudinal study of children with ADHD. Journal of abnormal psychology, 112(3), 497.

Nelson, J., Benner, G., Lane, K., & Smith, B. (2004). Academic achievement of K-12 students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Exceptional Children, 71(1), 59-73.

Obiakor, F., Algozzine, R., & Bakken, J. (2007). Challenging the" good" school myth to work with multicultural exceptional learners. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 10(1-2), 17-24.

Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Human learning (6th ed.). Boston, Mass: Pearson.

Owens, J., Storer, J., Holdaway, A., Serrano, V., Watabe, Y., Himawan, L., Krelko, R., Vause, K., Girio-Herrera, E., & Andrews, N. (2015). Screening for social, emotional, and behavioral problems at kindergarten entry: Utility and incremental validity of parent report. School Psychology Review, 44(1), 21-40.

Pastor, P., Reuben, C., & Duran, C. (2012). Identifying emotional and behavioral problems in children aged 4-17 years: United States, 2001-2007. National health statistics reports, (48), 1-17.

Piaget, J. (1964). Part I: Cognitive development in children: Piaget development and learning. Journal of research in science teaching, 2(3), 176-186.

Pritchard, A. (2014). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom (3rd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Quinn, M., & Poirier, J. (2004). Linking prevention research with policy: Examining the costs and outcomes of the failure to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders. In R. Rutherford, M. Quinn, & S. Mathur (Eds.), Handbook of research in emotional and behavioral disorders (pp. 78-97). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Raines, T., Dever, B., Kamphaus, R., & Roach, A. (2012). Universal screening for behavioral and emotional risk: A promising method for reducing disproportionate placement in special education. The Journal of Negro Education, 81(3), 283-296.

Shaw, D., & Bell, R. (1993). Developmental theories of parental contributors to antisocial behavior. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 21(5), 493-518.

Simcha-Fagan, O., Langer, T., Gersten, J., & Eisenberg, J. (1975). Violent and antisocial behavior: A longitudinal study of violent youth. Unpublished report of the Office of Child Development.

Skinner, B. F. (1963). Behaviorism at fifty. Science, 140(3570), 951-958. Retrieved from

Sprague, J., & Perkins, K. (2009). Direct and collateral effects of the First Step to Success program. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11(4), 208-221.

Stoutjesdijk, R., Scholte, E., & Swaab, H. (2012). Special needs characteristics of children with emotional and behavioral disorders that affect inclusion in regular education. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 20(2), 92-104.

Syed, E., Hussein, S., & Mahmud, S. (2007). Screening for emotional and behavioral problems amongst 5–11-year-old school children in Karachi, Pakistan. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 42(5), 421-427.

Thompson, G., Warren, S., & Carter, L. (2004). It's not my fault: Predicting high school teachers who blame parents and students for students' low achievement. The High School Journal, 87(3), 5-14.

Trout, A., Nordness, P., Pierce, C., & Epstein, M. (2003). Research on the academic status of children with emotional and behavioral disorders: A review of the literature from 1961 to 2000. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 11(4), 198-210.

U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Data & Statistics. Retrieved December 18, 2016, from

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for action on special needs education: adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education; Access and Quality. Salamanca, Spain, 7-10 June 1994. UNESCO.

Walker, H. (2004). Commentary: Use of evidence-based interventions in schools: Where we've been, where we are, and where we need to go. School Psychology Review, 33(3), 398.

Walker, H., Ramsey, E., & Gresham, F. (2004). Antisocial behavior in school: Evidence-based practices (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Woerner, W., Becker, A., Friedrich, C., Klasen, H., Goodman, R., & Rothenberger, A. (2002). Normative data and evaluation of the German parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ): Results of a representative field study. Zeitschrift Fur Kinder und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie, 30(2), 105-112.


Copyright © 2015 - 2023. European Journal of Special Education Research (ISSN 2501 - 2428) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms.

All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).