Bullying. Children with disabilities are at higher risk.

Oct 04, 2011
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Children look forward to the new school year as a milestone on the ladder to adulthood. They are excited to see children they have missed over the summer, meet their new teacher and be introduced to new skills and concepts in class. And yet as the new school year gets into full swing each fall, the darker side of the playground begins to emerge.

There are bullies to deal with.

Bullying may take many forms. Bullying could be done by a bigger, stronger child who steals the child’s lunch, money or clothing, or it could be that a pretty and popular girl makes others laugh at the child on a regular basis, or bullying can be done by someone who consistently trips, kicks, hits, or scratches the child. When bullying occurs to a child, that child may begin to dread school. The bullied child will often say they are too sick to go to school, or become silent and morose as they arrive at school and have to exit the car. Many children suffer in silence, feeling that they are to blame for the abuse they are suffering. They are too ashamed, humiliated and frightened to tell anyone.

What can a parent do?

The PACER Center has “Action Information” sheets on this very common childhood problem.

You will want to download the Action Information sheets and read the whole website. But to get you started, here is a summary of some of the suggestions they make:

  1. Work with your child being bullied: Let the child tell his/her story. Listen. Get the facts. Ask questions. Take notes. Keep calm. Start a written record of bullying events including names, dates and witnesses. Make sure that you express to your child that they do not deserve to be bullied and that you will get the situation remedied.
  2. Work with the school: Meet with the teacher. Ask what can be done to assure that your child feels safe in school.
  3. Work with administration: Send a letter documenting the abuse and requesting a meeting with the Principal. Keep the letter brief and factual. Send copies of the letter to the Special Education director, the school board and keep a copy for yourself. The focus of the meeting should be on what can be done to assure that your child is safe and feels secure in school (not on punishment for the bullies).

Who is the bully? The bully is also a child in pain.

  1. Talk with the child who is bullying. Find out who is bullying the bully.
  2. Confirm that the child’s behavior is bullying, is intentional, and is meant to hurt the victim.
  3. Teach respect, compassion and empathy to the child doing the bullying.
  4. Make your expectations for acceptable behavior very clear.
  5. Provide clear and consistent consequences for bullying and provide daily feedback.
  6. Teach by example. Be positive. Be realistic.
  7. Seek help for your child from professionals.

You can download free pdf files from www.PACER.org on this topic and many others.

There is also a great book for sale on the site:”Beyond Sticks & Stones: How to help your child with a disability deal with bullying.

Author: Tanya