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Bullying: Kids with disabilities at a higher risk

Being different can easily lead to extra challenges for children at school. If your child has special needs and learns differently because of dyslexia or acts differently because of autism, extra help can draw the unwanted attention of bullies.

As the problem of bullying has received more attention, school have hired “Student Resource Officers” and focused on new ways to identify and prevent it from occurring. However, estimates still place the number of children targeted by bullies at between 150,000 and 200,000 across the country.

Ways to help kids

One way that parents can help their children address issues with bullies is to listen closely and engage kids on what happened during the day. Watch for changes in behavior – maybe a child who loved school hasn't been able to recently get out the door without a breakdown in the morning. If your child describes an incident of bullying, address it with teachers or administrative staff.

Dismissing bullying as something the kids will resolve on their own generally does not resolve the problem, especially if one of the children has a disability. Failing to deal with bullying often leads to patterns of inappropriate behavior that can worsen over time.

Revisiting an Individualized Education Program outside of the typical timelines may solve some problems. Working together with teachers to revise a plan may be reduce attention on the special help.

In addition, kids with disabilities have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the IDEA and Section 504. Bullying may even rise to the level considered by harassment under these laws.

Source: Huffington Post, “When Back-to-School Means Back to Being Scared for Kids With Disabilities,” Chester Goad, Aug. 11, 2015

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