ANNUAL EDUCATION ISSUE BY LAUREN AGORATUS
In each state there is a Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center which provides technical assistance to families as well as professionals. PTIs provide information about the rights of the students and the responsibilities of the districts.
Research shows that children with disabilities are even more likely to be the victims of bullying than their peers without special needs. Special initiatives have been created to address this issue. Families and professionals need to know that both the victim and bully need help.
The rate of bullying for was almost 25 percent in elementary school, and up to 34.1 percent in middle school.i Almost half of children with autism are subjected to bullying.ii Research shows that students with any kind of disability are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers.iii
Stop Bullying Now: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources has a website called Stop Bullying Now. They recognized that bullying was a systemic issue affecting all children that needed to be addressed. The website has tips on defining bullying, including cyberbullying, how to prevent it, what to do when it happens, and where to get help. There is also an interactive map where families and professionals can find the applicable laws in their state. The information is available in both English and Spanish. Perhaps the best feature of the site is a special section for children themselves. This section has facts about bullying, what kids can do about it, instructional videos, and fun games. This is especially important as research has shown that over half the time bullying stops immediately if a bystander intervenes, even if it is another child.iv This section of the website has four colorful buttons
to links that are easy for children to use. The only downside is that, unfortunately, the section for children is only available in English.
Violence Prevention Works! Home of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: It is important that schools use an effective bullying prevention and intervention program if they are going to reduce or stop bullying. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is an evidence-based intervention that has worked not only in the US but across the world. The Violence Prevention Works! Website has tips for administrators, teachers, and parents (in English and
Spanish) on recognizing bullying, the warning signs of bullying, the impact of bullying, cyber-bullying, what to do when witnessing bullying, and how to advocate for a bullying prevention program at your school.
Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports Center: The National Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, funded by the US Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, has a wealth of resources on bullying prevention including a manual and tools in English, Spanish and French focused on reducing bullying behavior through the use school-wide positive behavioral supports. Stomp Out Bullying: Stomp Out Bullying is a website targeted to kids and teens. Its motto is Stop the Drama. End the Hate. Stomp out Bullying! There’s a help chat line for children who are being bullied, a blog, and pages for administrators, educators, and parents.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON CYBER-BULLYING
Children who are victims of bullying may now be subject to taunts 24 hours a day. Bullies are now using cellphones/texts, email, and social media reaching a number of individuals, to bully their victims. Due to non-stop harassment, children who are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to be depressed when compared to other types of bullying.v Families and professionals must learn to recognize when children are being victimized in this manner,
and consider limiting their child’s use of computers and cellphones to protect them. There is increasing evidence that suicide is linked to bullying, and the availability of technology to perpetuate bullying non-stop exacerbates the effects on the victims.
HELP FOR PARENTS AND PROFESSIONALS
Although there is no federal anti-bullying law, there is rising awareness of the issue. As mentioned above, StopBullying.gov has links on state laws. School districts should also have policies in place to address bullying. School climate, which includes a schoolwide anti-bullying initiative, will help prevent, address, and reduce bullying. As mentioned earlier, it is important to address both victims and bullies so all children get the support they need. In each state there is a Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center which provides technical assistance to families as well as professionals. PTIs provide information about the rights of the students and the responsibilities of the districts. They will provide free help over the phone and also present workshops at schools. Both parents and professionals need to know that bullying is not just a childhood rite of passage. It can cause lasting trauma and is
no longer tolerated by society. Families and professionals working with children need to reduce the incidences of bullying, particularly for children with special needs.•
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lauren Agoratus, M.A. is the parent of a child with multiple disabilities who serves as the Coordinator for Family Voices-NJ and as the central/southern coordinator in her state’s Family-to-Family Health Information Center, both
housed at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) at www.spanadvocacy.org
i National prevalence rates of bully victimization among students with disabilities in the United
States. Blake, Jamilia J.; Lund, Emily M.; Zhou, Qiong; Kwok, Oi-man; Benz, Michael R. School
Psychology Quarterly, Vol 27(4), Dec 2012, 210-222
ii JAMA Pediatrics Nov 2012, Vol 166, No. 11
iii (2009). C. Marshall, E. Kendall, M. Banks & R. Gover (Eds.), Disabilities: Insights from across fields
and around the world (Vol. 1-3). Westport, CT: Praeger Perspectives.
v Journal of Adolescent Health Volume 48, Issue 4, Pages 415–417, April 2011
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Stop Bullying Now www.stopbullying.gov
Or Spanish http://espanol.stopbullying.gov
Website section for children www.stopbullying.gov/kids/
Violence Prevention Works! www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying.page
Positive Behavioral Supports & Interventions Center www.pbis.org/school/bully-prevention
Stomp Out Bullying www.stompoutbullying.org
Parent Training and Information Centers www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center