Disability Students Are Bullied More
It isn’t right but it is a fact, according to the latest findings from a study published in Paediatrics, that primary aged children with a disability or health care need is more likely to be the target of bullying in mainstream schooling.
Almost 1500 children, their parents and teachers were surveyed and found that 1 in 3 chldren had some sort of extra health care need. When the results of these surveys were then cross examined with school records it was evident that children with disabilities had a larger number of absentees and lower grades. Which given their extra needs of support was not surprising. The results also mentioned children with high care needs were less motivated to achieve academically and more likely to have behavior problems.
But was even more surprising was after closer examination of those children’s responses, and their carer’s, it was noted that these students felt unsafe at school and had been victim’s of bullying or teasing at some point on school grounds. This is disappointing considering the increase of inclusion and and large amount of mainstreaming of special needs students we have in regular classrooms today.
It is widely accepted today to include children with special needs into mainstream and one would have thought the bullying of these students would have decreased because of more public awareness of equality. Having a past as a Special Education Teacher and a parent of a child with dyspraxia it is concerning to read these results.
As parents and teachers it is our job to help educate children on special needs in order for them to understand the emotions of others living in different circumstance and there are now a number of social acceptance or anti-bullying programs out there to be implemented by schools and parents to help reduce school bullying.
Try to avoid the short lived bullying courses, and consider implementing a program with a long term strategy or whole school approach. The best types are when bullies are accountable to their peers and stand out badly if they don’t comply. My past experience required me to seek out primary schools willing to integrate children with special needs, particularly autism, and have seen many programs tried. Some were good but class based or short lived, and some were obviously written by people who didn’t have to implement them, and therefore failed to achieve.
So, in the end I implemented my own program that addressed the questions the mainstream students and teachers had around the special needs students being integrated. The activities weren’t just worksheets and stories but involved dressing up, role play and creating artworks – all of which led to more interaction, and therefore had more impact. I’d then help the teacher & the school with a list of strategies to implement in the classroom and playground to support the acceptance program. This program now has been used in many classrooms by regular primary teachers throughout Australia and America.
Because budgets and funding is tight in most schools, as a teacher or school do your research before purchasing anti-bullying programs. The ‘quick fix’ methods tend to be nothing more than a band aid. Look for programs with long term strategies to put in place AFTER the course of activities.
And if you were wanting to read more about my “Kids4Kids Social Acceptance Program” click here. Be sure to let me know how it goes if you implement it too! I’m always keen to hear what other teacher’ have done with it or added to it.