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This section offers advice for parents of disabled children who are experiencing bullying. This has been written with Contact a Family (CAF) specifically for parents of disabled children. With thanks to all the parents of disabled children who helped us develop this content. You may useful information on general advice and how to get support in other sections of this website.
We know that children are more likely to be bullied when they are vulnerable in some way. Research suggests that disabled children are three times more likely than their peers to be bullied. A survey by Mencap discovered that eight out of ten children with a learning disability have been bullied. People’s assumptions and prejudices about disability can make disabled children more vulnerable to bullying for a number of reasons, such as:
As a result of their condition, they may exhibit bullying behaviour; or they may experience lots of transitions which means they have to settle into new environments. Examples of transitions are moving from a special unit to a mainstream school, spending periods of time in hospital and returning to school.
In addition to usual forms of bullying, disabled children may also experience different forms of bullying, like:
It is understandable to feel anxious about bullying; however it is important to remember that not all disabled children are bullied. Don’t assume your child is going to be bullied but be prepared in case they are. Prepare your child for school. If you’re worried that they’re going to be a target for bullies think how do I prepare them for this? Build their self-confidence, self-esteem.
Contact a Family suggests a few things you could try out when talking to your disabled child about bullying.
“I drew a diagram of a body and asked him to show me what had happened to him. It was horrible when I realised the extent of this.”
Parents can feel a whole range of emotions when they discover their child is being bullied. While initial feelings may include isolation, anger, sadness and guilt, it is important to remember there is a way forward.
If your child has special educational needs, you might find it useful to contact your local Parent Partnership Service through the national network. Family Lives runs the SEND Information, Advice and Support Service in Croydon providing independent information, advice and guidance for parents/carers of children and young people with special educational needs.