What does that mean for you?
It means that if you’re the teacher, parent, or advocate of children with special health care needs who you suspect may be dealing with physical and emotional abuse at school, you’re not alone.
To help add clarity to your bullying suspicions, our team lays out steps below on how you can identify the presence of bullying. We also describe how you can remedy the issue in special needs populations so you can break the cycle.
The first step to preventing bullying in the life of children with special health care needs is to do your best to identify the presence of it. There are a few strategies you can leverage to do this.
Talk To The Child You Suspect is Being Victimized
Whether it’s your student or child, the first step to uncovering the presence of bullying is to ask about it. Do this in a casual way so the conversation doesn’t create a situation that might make communication difficult.
For example, talk about what bullying is with the child in question and ask them if they’ve ever experienced anything like it. If they have, talk to the child’s educator, parent or one-on-one aide to see if another adult can corroborate or add clarity to the situation.
Watch for a Sudden Decrease in Academic Performance
Unfortunately, identifying bullying in children with special health care needs isn’t always as easy as asking. You may have to look for signs to find out if there’s an issue.
One of the most common signs of bullying is a decreased academic performance with no explanation. Managing bullying can be a distracting experience which can leave little time for studying and learning.
If you notice that grades have suddenly taken a turn for the worst with the child in question, talk to their teachers. Talk to their aides. Talk to their parents. See if anyone can offer an explanation.
If nobody can, bullying could be the cause.
Depression is a common side effect of bullying and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. If children with special needs exhibit behaviors like a sudden loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, lack of appetite or frequent naps, ask about bullying.
Low Self Esteem
Another sign of bullying in children with special health care needs is a sudden drop in self-esteem. If the person in question is suddenly talking bad about themselves or is using insults you can’t identify the origin of, you should be concerned.
Talk to the child and ask why they’re saying the things they’re saying. Ask them about where they heard the negative phrases they’re using.
One of the most tell-tale signs of bullying-related abuse if physical harm. If you notice signs of physical violence in a child you’re looking out for, immediately inquire as to the origin of any marks that you notice.
It’s also important that you talk to the other adults in the child’s life (parents, teachers, aides) to see if anyone can shed light on the situation. If you’re the educator of the child in question, you may be required by law to make a legal report with the help of your supervisor.
If you’ve noticed one or multiple signs of bullying in a child that you’re responsible for, the next step is to rectify the situation. When the presence of bullying in a child’s life gets confirmed, it can be an emotionally charged experience for teachers and parents.
It’s important to stay level-headed in these situations to not further escalate the issue.
Below are some steps to take to prevent further bullying in children with special needs.
Talk to a Healthcare Provider
If any physical or emotional abuse has gotten caused by bullying it’s important that you get the child in question to a healthcare worker. Health care workers will not only provide any necessary medical treatment for physical harm but they can also direct you on what psychological help may be advisable for the child.
Help Reinforce Social Skills
Many times children with special needs get targeted for bullying because of their lacking social skills. These skills can be instilled, at least in part, through being proactive as a teacher or parent and by seeking out professional psychological help.
Skills to focus on would be positive assertive strategies when dealing with negative people and assistance with basic skills required to make friends.
Notify the School
If you’re the parent of a bullied special needs child, you and your healthcare provider should notify the child’s school as soon as emotional or physical abuse on campus is suspected. The school should then mobilize appropriate disciplinary and preventative measures to ensure the child being abused has a safe learning environment.
Bullying prevention in children with special needs is something that needs to be continuously monitored. Monitoring needs to take place in the way of asking the bullied child to be honest if they’re experiencing further abuse and in the way of keeping school officials proactive in managing the prevention of further on-campus incidents.
Extend Your Education
There’s a virtually unlimited amount you can learn about bullying and resources available to prevent it in special needs populations. Always make the time to extend your education so you and the child you teach or parent never feels confused or alone.
Wrapping Up Bullying Prevention for Children With Special Health Care Needs
Whether you’re an educator, a parent or a guardian of children with special health care needs, being able to leverage strategies to prevent bullying in vulnerable populations is an important skill you should always be looking to improve.
Are you looking to take your career in special education further? Are you looking to get started in a special education career?
You can find a school on SpecialEduCareers.com and do both. Get started on your learning journey today!