Bullying People with Disabilities: A Shameful Sign of the Times

In The Guardian, a venerable British newspaper we read that 80 per cent of children in the UK with developmental disabilites are bullied and that many of them fear going out in public or attending school. In 2009 the Equality and Human Rights Commision in Britain undertook a survey and hearings to address the terrible scourge of discrimination against people with disabilities. They found, among other things that pwds were four times more likely to be victims of crime than non-disabled citizens and that disabled young people were most likely to be at risk. Here in the US the problem is just as large and the evidence to support this is everywhere. One can read hair raising narratives over at the Facebook page devoted to stopping disability bullying. If you simply Google the matter you will read page after page of material on the subject. Over at Disaboom (one of POTB's favorite disability sites) one can read practical suggestions about how to handle bullying and more. At Disaboom you can learn about the particular dynamics of disability bullying but the following is generally useful:

"Children with visible and invisible disabilities are significantly more likely than their peers to be the victims of bullying behavior. The type of bullying experienced often differs according to the child’s disability.

Children with visible conditions, like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, are more likely to be called names or aggressively excluded from social activities. Children with learning disabilities report higher rates of teasing and physically abusive victimization. Obesity has also been linked to higher rates of bullying. Overweight girls are especially vulnerable to physical forms of bullying.

Children with special needs are not exclusively victims of bullying. Research suggests that children with ADHD are more likely to demonstrate bullying behavior than their typical peers. Impulsivity and a lower tolerance for frustration are characteristics of this disorder that are also associated with bullying. Peer relationships are often extremely difficult and complex for children with ADHD. They need support and supervision to practice healthy social interactions with others. Whether victim or perpetrator, school bullying impedes learning and stunts the development of a healthy self-esteem." (See Disaboom link above.)

The disclosure of the bullying of a girl with special needs in Washington Courthouse, Ohio this past week has kept me half awake since I heard about it. I was that kid. I was treated poorly by classmates and some teachers. I know what its like. I will never forget how the hot blood of shame and fear feels as it courses through one's nether parts.   


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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