Children With Recognizable Disabilities More Likely to Be Bullied and To Bully
- Published on Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:31
Swearer said of the findings, “These results paint a fairly bleak picture for students with disabilities in terms of bullying, victimization and disciplinary actions...Sadly, these are the students who most need to display prosocial behavior and receive support from their peers.”
The study examined data on 816 disabled and non-disabled students between the ages of 9 and 16. It looked at the instances of involvement in bullying, office referrals, and more positive behaviors. The research showed that disabled children were more likely to be bullied and to be sent to the office for disciplinary action because of antisocial behavior such as bullying. The likelihood increased when considering just those who had more obvious disabilities such as hearing or speech impairments, or cognitive disabilities. Students with less obvious impairments such as learning disabilities showed less signs of bullying and victimization. Their numbers were more consistent with those who had no disability.
"The observable nature of the disability makes it easy to identify those students as individuals with disabilities, which may place them at greater risk for being the easy target of bullying," the team wrote. "Also, being frustrated with the experience of victimization, those students might engage in bullying behavior as a form of revenge."
About 38 percent of the students in the study admitted to having bullied another student at some point, while 67 percent said that they had been bullied by others. For students without disabilities there was a significant variation in the likelihood of being bullied based on grade level. But the numbers remained consistent throughout for persons with disabilities. There was no variation in the instances of bullying because of gender.
“A culture of respect, tolerance and acceptance is our only hope for reducing bullying among all school-aged youth.” the team wrote, “Programming should be consistently implemented across general and special education, should occur in each grade and should be part of an inclusive curriculum.”