Children with special needs are at an increased risk of being bullied than their “typical” peers. Lack of communication skills, social challenges, decreased coping skills, and physical vulnerabilities can all contribute to the bullying of a child with special needs.
If you feel your child is being bullied, report it IMMEDIATELY in writing! Follow the correct procedures set forth by the Department of Education in conjunction with the HIB (HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION AND BULLING) POLICY within your school District. Document everything!
It is important to remember that there are LAWS that protect our children from being bullied! Know your rights as parents, and know your children’s rights!
Educate yourself by reading the Guidance for Parents on the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. In addition, check out the resources on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) page from the State of NJ Department of Education website. The New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention is a great website which offers materials and handouts for those parents who want to get involved in advocating and implement anti-bullying programs. If you are a member of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), you have the opportunity to be trained on anti-bullying measures which can be implemented in your District. Lastly, there are many resources on the PACER’S National Bullying Prevention Center website, such as Federal laws, self and peer advocacy tips, and monthly-themed activities based on the recognition and prevention of bullying within schools.
As a mother of two children with Autism and other disabilities, I speak from experience when I reiterate the importance of documenting bullying incidents and educating yourself on ways to protect your children. NO FORM OF BULLYING IS ACCEPTABLE!