For a Great School Year, Bullyproof Your Special Needs Child

Last updated on August 21st, 2017 at 11:15 am

Bullying has always been an issue at school and in society, and now with social media the problem has taken on new dimensions. Bullying is repeated unwanted aggressive behavior and isn’t only physical – it includes spreading rumors, exclusion and embarrassment.

Kids with special needs, disabilities or medical conditions are even more likely to get bullied. Sometimes these kids don’t even understand what is happening and may even consider the bully to be a friend. Sometimes bullies can even be adults. So how can you protect your child?

LISTEN
As you chat with your child about their day, make sure you pay attention to little details. Ask questions to get more information. If your child is nonverbal, see how they react when you mention a specific class or student and take note of patterns.

WATCH
On the playground, at drop-off and pickup, observe carefully. Is there someone your child avoids? Are the kids congregating around someone or something? Are there cameras in the classroom or on the bus? Will the school or facility allow you to put a recording device on your child? If your child is on social media, check the accounts regularly.

INTERACT
Get the input of teachers, coaches and caregivers. If your child misbehaves whenever they are seated near a certain student, this may be an indication that your child is under stress. It could also be an indication that they are best buds.

Very young children are naturally curious and may stare or ask about any differences, but that is not bullying. As an overprotective parent it is easy to overreact, but use these moments to educate the child about differences and similarities – like how both kids love Minecraft or My Little Pony.

Bullying and harassment are never okay, and the law has specific requirements for handling it in a school setting. Every child deserves to feel safe. For more tips on keeping your child with special needs safe from bullying, check out this tip sheet from stopbullying.gov.

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Getting Additional Support – If a school district does not take reasonable, appropriate steps to end the bullying or harassment of a child with special needs, the district may be breaking the law.  Here are some contacts for you to reach out to, from stopbullying.gov

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner and serves as a contributor on the Yahoo! Contributor Network. She can be reached at rosie327@aol.com.Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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