Children with special needs face unique challenges for dealing with bullying. They often stand out from their peers in ways that make them targets for bullying, and children who have difficulty with social interactions have an even higher risk of being bullied.
Bullying certainly isn't a new problem; it has existed for generations. Historically, many have seen it as a rite of passage, a type of de facto hazing. According to Dr. Peter Raffalli, a pediatric neurologist at the Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., this attitude is, in many cases, more dangerous than the bullies themselves. "No matter how you look at it, bullying is a form of abuse victimization, plain and simple," said Dr.Raffailli. "It's a case of the strong - or at least the stronger - preying on the weak. It says volumes about where we are as a culture and race."
Bullying has negative effects on all its victims, but kids with special needs are especially vulnerable, according to Nancy A. Murphy, M.D., FAAP and chair of the AAP Council on Children with Disabilities Executive Committee. "Since these children already struggle with self-esteem issues," said Dr. Murphy, "bullying has a greater impact and they desire to fit in, and are less likely to stand up for themselves."
Learn more about the unique charcteristics of children with special needs and why these children are so often the targets of bullying in this article from our partners at AbilityPath.