bullying prevention

Children with Cerebral Palsy at Greater Risk of Bullying

Written by Cerebral Palsy Guidance

Youth and family service organizations serve a multitude of young people, including those with disabilities. Children living with any type of disability are more vulnerable to bullying than their peers. With those disabilities that make a child look different, including Cerebral Palsy, the risk of being a victim of bullying is even higher. The Forum for Equality estimates that nearly 15-25% of students in the United States are victims of bullying. While bullying is a big problem for a lot of children, and the consequences can be serious, there are things that can be done to prevent this victimization and to help victims cope.

 

Bullies Often Target Children Perceived as Different

Cerebral palsy affects a child’s muscle movements. There are different types of Cerebral Palsy and it affects everyone in different ways. According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, individuals with the most common type of Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Cerebral Palsy, can experience stiff muscles, difficulty controlling muscles, and/or difficulty moving from one place to another. Some children may struggle to chew and swallow food, which can cause drooling. These kinds of factors cause other children to perceive them as being different or not normal. Statistics show that perceived differences are major factors in bullying, and this means that children with disabilities are at risk.

Children with a disability like cerebral palsy are more likely than their able-bodied peers to be bullied. A child with cerebral palsy may be targeted by a bully because they are perceived as being less able to defend themselves due to their various physical make-ups. Some children with cerebral palsy also have cognitive impairments that can make them vulnerable. These children may have a more difficult time distinguishing between friends, and individuals who are trying to hurt them.

 

Bullying Has Consequences

Both the victim and the perpetrator of bullying suffer negative consequences. Some are physical; bullying can cause real and serious injuries. A child with disabilities related to cerebral palsy may not be able to defend himself and can really get hurt by bullying. Of course, the psychological consequences are often the longer-lasting effects of bullying. Bullying increases a child’s risk for developing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence, and could potentially lead to substance abuse issues. These psychological consequences can also affect the perpetrator of bullying.

 

Prevention and Support for Bullying Victims with Cerebral Palsy

Preventative measures can help put a stop to bullying. Adults, including teachers, parents, and others, must take an active role in teaching children to empathize with others and to stop bullying behaviors as soon as they are witnessed. Awareness and education can also play a big role in prevention. Teaching children about cerebral palsy helps build empathy and prevent bullying behaviors. This can be done at home, or in the classroom.

When a child with cerebral palsy does become a victim of bullying, they need support and guidance from both adults and peers in their life. A strong group of friends, adults who they feel comfortable talking to, and participation in activities of all types can go a long way in helping a child feel more confident and able to avoid some of the worst long-term consequences of bullying.

Living with cerebral palsy presents challenges that others don’t have to face, such as simply being able to walk. These children shouldn’t also have to face bullying and its side effects. Greater awareness, education, and support can help these children avoid bullying and stand up to it if it does occur.

 

Learn more about helping young people with cerebral palsy at:

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month

By: Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

October is upon us – a month many associate with the start of the fall season, cooler temperatures, Halloween and pumpkins. In addition to these common themes, the month also brings to light the topic of bullying prevention. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time when communities unite to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach and education.

Bullying was once considered a harmless childhood ritual experienced by many youth. Today, research indicates that bullying has significant short-term and long-term effects that impact education, health and safety. PACER’s National Bullying Resource Center highlights the following negative outcomes related to bullying:

  • Education: Bullying can negatively impact a child’s access to education and lead to school avoidance, decrease in grades, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in academic achievement and increase in dropout rates.
  • Health: Bullying can lead to physical and mental health problems, including headaches and stomach ache, sleeping problems, low self-esteem, increased fear or anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.
  • Safety: Bullying impacts a young person’s sense of well-being, such as self-isolation, increased aggression, self-harm and suicidal ideation, feeling of alienation at school, fear of other students, and retaliation.

PACER offers several resources to use this month and throughout the year to inspire, educate and encourage others to join the movement to prevent bullying. Sign a petition, register your school or organization as a Champion Against Bullying, participate in Unity Day – there are many opportunities to get involved. Click here to learn more and take action: http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/

Bullying prevention starts with YOU! To learn more about bullying prevention, please check out the following resources: