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Bullying Children With Disabilities: Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy and Bullying Children With Disabilities

According to some reports in 2015, up to 22 per cent of students have been bullied, and few of them reported it. But the statistics for Bullying Children With Disabilities are even more alarming.

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Statistics from the National Bullying Prevention Center also show that children with disabilities, like cerebral palsy, are even more likely to be bullied. As much as 60 per cent of these children have reported being bullied.

Cerebral Palsy and Being Different

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common conditions that result from birth injuries. It is a neurological condition that impacts a child’s muscle development, tone, and movement. Depending on the severity it may prevent a child from walking at all or may cause other symptoms like learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, and speech difficulties.

Most children with cerebral palsy look different and move differently, which makes them stand out. They may use assistive devices like wheelchairs; they may speak with difficulty; they make spastic movements; some also have difficulty eating and breathing and may drool. Bullies target kids that are different, which makes kids with cerebral palsy more vulnerable.

The Effects of Bullying

There are many negative impacts of bullying, both on the bully and the victim. A child with cerebral palsy is already coping with daily challenges, but to be bullied is an extra burden that can have a devastating and lasting impact:
  • Lower grades and more missed school days.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Less interest in school and academic achievement.
  • Less interest in participating in school and other activities.
  • Mental health symptoms, like depression and anxiety.

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One study that specifically looked at children with cerebral palsy who were bullied found that these children felt socially excluded. It isn’t just bullying that impacts them; they are also left out of activities and suffer from a lack of inclusion.

Overcoming Bullying with Cerebral Palsy

Children with disabilities have legal rights. Bullying of these children under the law is considered discriminatory harassment. Parents and other adults can work with a child’s school to stop harassing and bullying, but if that does not help, legal action may be taken to bring an end to the harassment.

Additionally, there are things that children and their parents can do to overcome the negative impacts of bullying. Developing self-confidence is a major factor in helping bullied children. Parents and families must teach their children to speak up, to stand up for themselves, and to develop confidence through learning new skills and by participating in activities with other children. Being included and being active goes a long way to helping a child with cerebral palsy feel more confident and better able to stand up to bullies.

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