Bullying is mean and mean stinks. Bullying, however, goes well beyond mean. The term is commonly defined as "the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include an intentional act to hurt or harm someone, an imbalance of power and repetition” (Lohmann). However defined, bullying is ugly and hurtful and cruel and should be taken very seriously. Children with disabilities are at an even greater risk of being bullied, and it is not only ugly, hurtful and cruel, it is against the law and all steps necessary to eliminate bullying in this population ought to be taken.
Bullying occurs in many different ways. Physical abuse can include hitting, kicking, shoving and spitting. Verbal abuse can include name-calling, taunting, teasing, harassing and threatening. Besides being bullied in person, bullying sometimes takes place online, through cyberbullying, which is likely to increase as we become more dependent on technology and social media. Even spreading rumors about someone can cross the line into bullying.
Bullying has many different negative effects on children and teens, which can be both physically and emotionally damaging. Victims tend to have low self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression, psychological scars that can last forever. Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and disparagement are common. Many face deterioration in their physical health, and often have headaches, stomach aches and other physical ailments. Their grades may start to drop as they lose self-esteem and confidence, and as they start to skip school or refuse to participate in school. Some targets of bullying start engaging in acts of hurting themselves and have suicidal thoughts.
Bullied students can also get very violent and in turn become bullies themselves. According to one statistic, in 12 of 15 school shootings in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied. In 1999, the topic of bullying came to the forefront when two students at Columbine High School in Colorado killed twelve classmates and a teacher. The shooters had allegedly been bullied in school for years.
Victims of bullying are usually those who stand apart from those that are considered “normal.” They are often those students who look different, speak different, and act different from the “normal” kids. Special needs students, those with developmental, learning and intellectual disabilities, are not considered “normal” and are oftentimes the targets. One study claims that almost 75% of special education students report being bullied. The members of this vulnerable group is vast, and includes, for example, children with ADHD, children with physical disabilities like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, children who stutter, children that are on the autism spectrum, and children with learning disabilities. Students with disabilities and special needs are more likely to face peer rejection. They are at an...