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Bullying of Children with Disabilities « Disabilities – Education

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Articles, Publications and Resources
regarding Bullying of Children with Disabilities

(Also see General Education page: Bullying in School)


  • Bullying Among Children and Youth with Disabilities and Special Needs (Education.com)
    There is a small but growing amount of research literature on bullying among children with disabilities and special needs. This research indicates that these children may be at particular risk of being bullied by their peers.
  • Bullying of Children with Disabilities (Special Education Law Blog – a 7 part series)
    Kids with disabilities are often singled out by bullies.  This has become one of the hottest of hot button issues in special education law.  Several laws could be implicated, but my focus here will be upon whether bullying can constitute a violation of IDEA.

    • Part I – Discusses court cases recognizing that bullying could prevent educational benefit, and a school district's failure to respond could constitute a denial of FAPE.

    • Part II – Court case that held that when facing a situation in which a child with a disability is allegedly being bullied, a school district must take prompt and appropriate action including making an investigation and taking steps to prevent future abuse. In this case, the Court found that the district did nothing despite parent requests to discuss the problem. (T.K. vs. New York City Department of Education)

    • Part III – A review of literature on bullying with words provided by court opinion (Bullying in America)

    • Part IV – More of the court's opinion discussed in Part III and what constitutes bullying.

    • Part V – More from the court on Cyberbullying
      The Internet has become a fertile area for bullying behavior. Cyber-bullying is defined as "willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computer, cell phones and other electronic devices."

    • Part VI – More from the court on Distinguishing Bullying from Horseplay
      Every disagreement among children does not amount to bullying. "What distinguishes bullying from other forms of childhood aggression, whether a hard-fought basketball game or rough-and-tumble play, is unequal and coercive power."

    • Part VII – More from the court on How Bullying Differs Between Boys and Girls
      Children of both genders experience the gamut of bullying behavior.

  • Bullying of Kids with Disabilities: How One Young Man Took Back Control (Special Ed Justice – 3/31/11)
    A very inspirational story about a student with Asperger’s Disorder who managed to turn the very negative experience of being bullied into a positive result.

  • Bullying of Kids with Disabilities: How Can We Make it Stop? (Special Ed Justice – 4/22/09)
    Yet another sad story of a child who committed suicide because he was being bullied at school.  Poor Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts killed himself, apparently to put an end to the constant bullying to which he was subjected by his peers at school. 

  • Bullying Students with Disabilities: How to Fight Back (Disaboom)
    Born with a mild-to-moderate case of cerebral palsy, Tony Bartoli encountered a lot of bullying while in school. As an adult, Bartoli wanted to change how kids with differences, including disabities, get treated at school, so in 2004 he started traveling across the country to help raise awareness about the seriousness of bullying. Bullies prey on individuals with differences, making students with disabilities especially vulnerable to bullies. In his travels, Bartoli has encountered many students with disabilities who have been bullied, including students with Down syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy. Bullying will continue to be a problem until people talk about the issue. Bartoli explains part of the problem involves “not knowing how deeply it (bullying) affects others.”
  • Bullying, Tuition Reimbursement, and the IDEA (Stoloff Law)
    A New York federal court held that when a student with a disability experiences “substantial restrictions in learning opportunities” due to severe or persistent bullying, she has been deprived of a Free and Appropriate Education under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”).  Starting on page 1 of its opinion in T.K. and S.K. o/b/o L.K. v. New York City Dept. of Ed. (10-CV-00752) (April 25, 2011), the court recognized that bullying is a serious issue that must be addressed head-on.  The entire 51-page opinion is definitely worth the read. Also highly recommended is an earlier case from 2004 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Shore Regional High School Bd. of Ed. v. P.S. o/b/o P.S., 381 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2004).

  • How to Handle Bullying of Children with Special Needs (Disaboom)
    Research shows that children with disabilities are more likely to be bullied than their peers. Once overlooked as a typical challenge of childhood, professionals have begun to recognize the debilitating effects of bullying. Educators, parents, and advocates have united to develop anti-bullying philosophies and policies aimed to prevent school bullying and promote the positive social inclusion of all children.

  • 'Independence' Is The Scariest Word: My Life With Learning Disabilities (Huffington Post 6/6/12)
    Bullying. It's getting a lot of attention. We hear almost daily of another story where someone who is considered "different" is laughed at, teased, pushed around — or worse. And where teasing and bullying can lead to sad consequences. Young adults with learning disabilities understand how hard it is to be "different." I am no stranger to these difficulties because I have learning disabilities, or as I like to call them, learning differences.

  • Students With Disabilities Often On Both Ends Of Bullying (Disability Scoop – 6/29/12)
    Special education students are more likely than their typically developing peers to be bullied. But new evidence indicates they’re also often the ones doing the harassing.  A new study looking at over 800 students ages 9 to 16 from nine different schools finds that bullying experiences vary dramatically between special education and general education students.

Resources:

  • Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit (Bully Free World)
    This toolkit is a set of resources for people to confront bullying of children with special needs from all angles – from talking to your children to knowing your rights to teaching tolerance in schools.