Kids with disabilities more likely to be victims of bullying

A conclusion to a study reported in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics might sound like an unfortunate “no-brainer” to those of us who have children with disabilities: being the victim of bullying is more common among elementary school students with disabilities than among children without disabilities.

The study published in Pediatrics surveyed more than 1,450 students in fourth through sixth grade. Parents were surveyed, too, and when researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins and Marshall University matched the survey responses up with school records they found that children with disabilities missed more days of school and had lower grades. These kids also reported higher levels of bullying and were less likely to feel safe in school. Students with special health care needs were less likely to report that getting good grades mattered to them.

The authors of the study wrote that these problems threaten the well-being of these kids and their future flourishing as adults.

Health and school professionals will need to work together to identify these children much earlier, ensure that they receive appropriate supports and services and monitor the effectiveness of services.

Ever since we launched our new Make the First Five Count campaign here at Easter Seals, I’ve been paying more attention to stories that emphasize the importance of early identification and supports and services for children with autism and other disabilities. Before reading this report, though, I hadn’t put it together that early identification and supports could prevent bullying.


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