What To Know About Students with Disabilities and Bullying

Society has been working toward improving how we view and deal with bullying, but unfortunately, it’s an issue that’s far from over or solved as we can see with these Cyberbullying Statistics for 2021. This holds particularly true for children who are disabled.

Researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Florida looked at different data points and surveys from more than 6,500 students between 3rd and 12th grade. Students attended schools in a large New England school district, and there was an equal distribution between male and female students.

16% of the survey participants received special education services.

What was found is that bullying rates among children with disabilities remain consistently high as they grow up.

Research repeatedly shows that bullying rates among students with disabilities are consistently higher than rates for students without disabilities.

Everyone needs to consider and address this topic. This includes not only parents and families of children with disabilities, but also educators, other students, and parents of students who don’t have disabilities.

Everyone has a role to play in recognizing and preventing this kind of bullying.

The following are some key things to know about students with disabilities and bullying.

Impacts on Education

There are far-reaching impacts of bullying on any child, but sometimes, in particular, a child with disabilities.

Children with disabilities may also face challenges in their academic environment, and when they’re bullied, it can increase these.

When children are bullied, it can cause problems with concentration, higher rates of absenteeism, and decreases in grades. Children who are bullied in any way may also have a loss of interest in their school work, and it can contribute to an increase in dropout rates.

Federal Laws

There are federal laws designed to provide protections to students with disabilities who are being harassed.

For example, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law requiring a child who qualifies for special education, and other related services must receive free appropriate public education.

There is also Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which outlines provisions and laws that apply if harassment of a child with a disability prevents equal education opportunity.

In addition to federal laws, there are many state laws, and school districts tend to have their own policies regarding how bullying is addressed and dealt with.

Why Do Children Bully?

As a parent or an educator, you might want to learn more about what leads children to bully and especially to bully students with disabilities.

Unfortunately, bullying can often stem from learned behavior that a child sees in their home environment.

It may not always be from parents, but can be from older siblings who maybe themselves have been bullied and then model that behavior at home to their younger siblings.

Some children may be inherently impulsive or aggressive, and if it’s a personality issue, it can require early intervention.

Sometimes bullies may engage in these behaviors because they feel inferior, and by acting out toward other students, they might feel better about themselves.

Parents of a Bullied Child

If your child is bullied and also has a disability, it’s emotionally difficult, and it can be logistically difficult to know the appropriate steps you can take.

First, as a parent, learn the red flags of bullying. Your child might not be able to tell you what’s happening because of their disability, or they may not want to discuss it with you, so there are certain things you should watch for that could give you an indication of whether or not this is happening.

You also want to be closely involved with your child’s teachers and education so that you can be aware of what’s happening and intervene when necessary.

There are steps you can take to support your child at home as well as at school.

You can help your child understand that bullying isn’t their fault, and they haven’t done anything to deserve it.

You can also help your child learn appropriate strategies for dealing with bullying and help them identify adults at school who can help them.

Schools and educators can work to help all students learn to be empathetic and caring.

This can occur in different age-appropriate ways, such as engaging students from different backgrounds to work together on fun projects and using social-emotional learning activities.

Finally, if a child with a disability is being continuously bullied and the school isn’t taking action, as a parent, you may have to explore legal avenues at that point.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

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