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Bullying and Harassment of Children with Disabilities: What to Look Out For

Children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers that do not have a disability. While this statistic is shocking, what may be even more appalling is that only 60% of these children report their bullying or harassment. As a parent of a child with a disability, it can be challenging to know when the right time to deal with a bully is, how to go about addressing the situation and how to tell if your child is not being honest with you about the severity of the bullying. It is important to know that your child is likely either hurt, embarrassed or confused by the bully’s behavior and that may make them not want to report it to an adult or authority figure. When you ask them if they are experiencing bullying, make sure you make note of more than just their verbal answer. Here are some warning signs of bullying to look out for:

  • Your child has unexplained injuries such as cuts, bruises or scratches.
  • Your child seems anxious, especially before school.
  • Your child may fall behind in school.
  • Your child may have trouble sleeping or may experience bad dreams.
  • Your child becomes afraid to go to school or attending any sort of organized peer activity.
  • Your child has a shift in their mood after school including depression, moodiness, sadness, agitation.

The best thing to do if you are suspicious about your child being bullied is to make an appointment to speak with his or her school faculty. It is important that you enlist their help to observe what is happening during the day and to notify you if there is anything suspicious happening. Should you receive that phone call that your child may be experiencing bullying or harassment at school, be sure to ask the school for the resources they can provide to you and your child. The school should have a protocol for situations like this and you are legally protected by The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is important for you, as your child’s protector and guardian, to know what laws and regulations are put in place to protect you and your child’s safety. To read more about this, please click here

We hope that these signs will help you determine whether your child is being bullied at school or not. Please remember that although a child with disabilities is two to three times more likely to be bullied, bullying of any kind should not be tolerated or encouraged. We hope that you and your family live a very happy, healthy and positive life!

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