In a study done by The Mencap Charity, approximately eight out of ten disabled children are bullied, and they are more likely to face bullying rather than their peers. It is without say, that children with disabilities such as physical, developmental intellectual, emotional, and sensory disabilities, have an increased risk of being bullied, according to stopbullying.gov.
We all know as parents or guardians that bullying happens but, we never really think about it happening to our own child. I’m sure we all think of that possibility that our child could go to school and get bullied, but we never think that it could become a reality That unfortunately is not always the case, nearly half of children who go to school will experience bullying at some point in time.
Special needs kids are being bullied over something that they cannot control and even children without these issues are getting bullied as well. They are being bullied for talking funny, looking different, acting different, dressing different, not wearing the right brand of shoes or clothing, this is ridiculous and needs to stop. While some may brush it off the act of bulling off, a special needs child or any child alone that is being bullied can have effects that are long lasting and can affect them mentally and emotionally. Some of the thing’s children may experience while being bullied according to PSYCOM are:
- Social isolation
- Feeling Ashamed
- Sleep patterns changing
- Eating habits change
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding school
- Psychosomatic Symptoms like, stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, etc.)
- Poor school performance
Some may ask what is bullying and what kinds of bullying are there? The National Centre Against Bullying defines bullying as, “When an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond.” And, according to the National Centre Against Bullying there are four types of bullying.
Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing or damaging property. Physical bullying causes both short term and long-term damage.
Verbal bullying includes name calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. While verbal bullying can start off harmless, it can escalate to levels which start affecting the individual target.
Social bullying, sometimes referred to as covert bullying, is often harder to recognize and can be carried out behind the bullied person’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and/or cause humiliation. Social bullying includes:
- lying and spreading rumors
- negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks
- playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate
- mimicking unkindly
- encouraging others to socially exclude someone
- damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.
Cyber bullying can be overt or covert bullying behaviors using digital technologies, including hardware such as computers and smartphones, and software such as social media, instant messaging, texts, websites and other online platforms.
Cyber bullying can happen at any time. It can be in public or in private and sometimes only known to the target and the person bullying. Cyber bullying can include:
- Abusive or hurtful texts emails or posts, images or videos
- Deliberately excluding others online
- Nasty gossip or rumors
- Imitating others online or using their log-in
Bullying is a serious topic that needs to be handled and needs to stop being pushed aside. Now I never knew what should be done if I were to witness a bullying situation but taking social work classes this year has really opened my eyes to wanting to help people and help myself become a better person. Bullying doesn’t affect just the person being bullied, it has its effects on the bully itself and also the bystanders that see the bullying happening.
So, the one thing that is always good to do is to let someone know so you know that you are doing your part in helping because if you don’t you aren’t helping anyone and in my opinion just ignoring it isn’t trying to prevent or stop the act of bullying at all.
Ninety-five percent of 6- to 21-year-old students with disabilities were in public schools in 2013. When assessing specific types of disabilities, rates differ: 35.3% of students with behavioral and emotional disorders, 33.9% of students with autism, 24.3% of students with intellectual disabilities, 20.8% of students with health impairments, and 19% of students with specific learning disabilities face high levels of bullying victimization.
Parents can help by:
- Be on the lookout for bullying
- Listen to what your child is telling you
- Pay attention to your child’s moods
- Never ignore self-destructive behaviors like running away from home, cutting or talking about suicide Watch your child’s sleeping habits
- Look deeper if your child’s grades begin to fall
- Make sure you know your child’s schedule
- Watch for reports of lost possessions
Know your rights: Learn and understand Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These two Acts protect children with disabilities and make it illegal to be harassed due to a child with a disability.
- Follow-up on all bullying reports
Some ways schools can help stop bullying are:
Social-Emotional learning or (SEL) which is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”
Self-management: The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.
Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.
Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.
Responsible decision-making: The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.
Policies and Practices
A school could create a mission statement that sets the vision for their school. This could be created so everyone is aware that they will not tolerate this behavior and that other have confidence that bullying will be handled accordingly and properly. An example of a mission state is provided by stopbullying.gov as well as ways to help bullying be handled are down below:
Sample Mission Statement
School is committed to each student’s success in learning within a caring, responsive, and safe environment that is free of discrimination, violence, and bullying. Our school works to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their fullest potential and share a personal and meaningful bond with people in the school community.
State and local lawmakers have acted to prevent bullying and protect children. Through laws and model policies (that provide guidance to districts and schools), each state addresses bullying differently. Bullying, cyberbullying, and related behaviors may be addressed in a single law or may be addressed in multiple laws. In some cases, bullying appears in the criminal code of a state that may apply to juveniles.
- A code of conduct describes the behaviors expected of everyone in the school. The code of conduct applies to everyone, sets standards for behavior.
- A student bill of rights includes positive things students can expect at school. Keep it short and easy to remember, so it is useful in day-to-day school life.
Sample Student Bill of Rights: to let students attending the school that they do matter, and they have rights.
Each student at [school] has a right to:
- Learn in a safe and friendly place
- Be treated with respect
- Receive the help and support of caring adults
Next, we have some ways that schools could help prevent it or ways that it can be handled according to stopbyllying.gov:
Integrating Rules and Policies into a School’s Culture
As you develop or update school rules and policies, have a plan for keeping them relevant and meaningful for students and school staff.
- Make sure school rules and policies are consistent with state laws and the school district rules and policies.
- Include school staff, parents, and students when developing rules and policies. Giving students a role can help them set their own climate of respect and responsibility. Parental involvement can reinforce these messages at home.
- Train school staff on enforcing school rules and policies. Give them the tools to respond to bullying consistently and appropriately.
- Incorporate rules and policies in day-to-day school interactions. Teachers and students can discuss the rules in class.
Schools can create clear procedures for reporting rule violations so that appropriate consequences can be given to students when rules are broken. Reporting and keeping track of individual incidents and responses as well as trends over time.
Some tips for a reporting system:
- Make it easy. People are more likely to report when it’s easy to do.
- Maintain reports in a way that shows emerging problems and patterns over time.
- Keep reports confidential and private. School staff and students should be encouraged to report violations without fear of retaliation.
Those were ways the school can address bullying, I do believe that most schools have some for of policy in place for bullying, but it is a matter of acting on what their rules and regulations are. So, some way we as bystanders can help put a stop to bullying according to stopbullying.gov are:
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe.
We can help by:
- Intervening immediately. It is ok to get another adult to help.
- Separate the ones involved.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Stay calm.
- Model respectful behavior when you intervene.
Avoid these common mistakes:
- Don’t ignore it. Don’t think kids can work it out without adult help.
- Don’t immediately try to sort out the facts.
- Don’t force other kids to say publicly what they saw.
- Don’t question the children involved in front of other kids.
- Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately.
- Don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.
I believe that no one should be bullied and the people who bully need help too and we need to have those resources available and make sure they are being utilized. I wish we lived in a world where we all coincided with each other in peace and no one had to be hurt, be afraid of another, feel unsafe in school, etc. Unfortunately, bullying is currently an ongoing issue and have led to serious acts of self- harm and death and it is tragic.
I don’t think the schools do their best to take care of people who are bullied and the bullies themselves, I think that these people brush bullying under the rug and they feel that it will suppress itself and that is not the case.
So, I whole heartedly believe that in order to stop bullying or at least eliminate some of it everyone needs to work together as a whole, take proper action, let everyone know that bullying is serious and not a joke and you can be seriously punished for it. I think that it needs be to be reiterated so much that some may feel as though it is annoying and then maybe the bullying would subside.
- 50% of Children with Special Needs Are Bullied at School. (2017, August 07). Retrieved from https://www.angelsense.com/blog/50-of-children-with-special-needs-are-bullied-at-school/
- Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/groups/special-needs/index.html
- Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/groups/special-needs/index.html
- Core SEL Competencies. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2018, from https://casel.org/core-competencies/
- Lipsett, A. (2007, June 18). Eight of out 10 disabled children bullied, report finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2007/jun/18/schools.children
- Respond to Bullying. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/respond/on-the-spot/index.html
- Set Policies & Rules. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/at-school/rules/index.html
- Short Term and Long Term Effects of Bullying: Psychological & Societal. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2018, from https://www.psycom.net/effects-of-bullying