Has Your Child Been Bullied?
Mine has. It was devastating. I felt so helpless when it happened the first time. My emotions ranged from outraged to depressed. Of course my son was a mess too.
At school, this is more common than we realize. "According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50% of children are bullied and 10% are victims of bullying on a regular basis. Kids who have learning disabilities are especially vulnerable to bullying problems." (www.wrightslaw.com/info/harassment.index.htm)
When schools are no longer a place of safety and security for students, action must be taken. Submitting your complaint to the school is the first step. "Some states are beginning to require schools to adopt anti-bullying policies". Check to see if your school has an anti-bullying policy and get a copy of the rules. If you feel your child is in need of a plan, contact the principal for a meeting for extra support for your child. If your child has a 504 Plan or an IEP, the school must take immediate action. (www.wrightslaw.com/phprint.php "Preventing Bullying" by Linda Lumsden.)
"The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Guidance Letter explains bullying and denial of Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE). The bullying of a student with a disability on any basis can result in a denial of FAPE under Section 504 that must be remedied; it also reiterates schools' obligation to address conduct that may constitute a disability-based harassment violation and explains that a school must also remedy the denial of FAPE resulting from a disability-based harassment (October 14, 2014)" (www.wrightslaw.com/info/harassment.index.htm)
Going to the wrightslaw.com website will give you an extensive list of references and stated laws for your child's protection. When writing my letter of complaint to the school's administrators, I would always address it to the principal, then record copies to the school psychologist, the teacher and any therapists currently working with my child. I would also quote the above law to let them know I meant business.
The schools should be your first line of support. They should have a school-wide anti-bullying policy with regular rallies to educate all students. They could also start a peer program, which could be designed for the students to be extra eyes and ears if they see bullying. The students can be trained to act as buddies to anyone being bullied. Of course it is imperative that the bully be required to get counseling, and if necessary, the family as well.
As parents, we must realize that because we have a child with disabilities, they are more vulnerable to being bullied. It is important for them to be educated before they encounter this situation. We have to prepare them for this world that can be harsh at times. Our son received training through the "Get Safe" program offered through our local Regional Center.
Now that my son is an adult, I've drifted away from the "victim" mentality. I want my son to see himself as smart and resourceful. He may always be subject to bullying, but at least now he is wiser and knows a few survival tactics (like yelling, running or if need be, calling 911). I've also encouraged him to communicate with me in this area. I always praised him for being brave enough to share about this humiliating and terrifying experience.
What do you do to equip your child for the reality of bullying? We need all the ideas we can get!
Until next week. be brave and keep shining! www.sparklinghope.net