Harassment at School
All children deal with the risk of harassment and bullying at school, but children with disabilities often suffer much more severe teasing and harassment. Some children may have obvious physical limitations or disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, an orthopedic impairment, deafness and visual impairments, that draw the attention of bullies. Other children with less noticeable issues such as learning disabilities, autism and intellectual disabilities, may be called “stupid” or “slow” by their classmates. While learning to deal with mean individuals and ridicule is part of growing up, harassment because of a disability is unfair and can be emotionally damaging.
If you have a child with a disability, harassment at school may be a major concern for you and your family. Coping with a disability is difficult enough for a child without bullying to go with it. The Special Needs and Special Education practice groups work closely with families of children with disabilities and understand your justifiable concern and outrage when harassment affects your child. We will work with you and your child’s educators to address the problem and protect your child from harassment.
Identifying Harassment and Bullying
Communicating with your child regularly about how they feel about school, their peers, and their teachers is very important. This not only helps to identify potential harassment, but also keeps you informed about the day-to-day implementation of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Parent-teacher conferences, IEP team meetings, and PTA meetings are other excellent forums for raising concerns about bullying.
However, some children with disabilities are not able to communicate verbally about harassment at school. Still others may feel ashamed or uncomfortable talking to parents about this type of problem. Even worse, harassment is sometimes unintentionally or intentionally allowed or encouraged by school employees. In this case the child may be afraid of telling his parents about the problem. When your child is unwilling or unable to tell you about bullying or harassment, regular and frank conversations with teachers and administrators are necessary. Educators have a responsibility to prevent harassment or bullying of students with disabilities and to foster an educational environment that values everyone and does not allow violent or cruel behavior.
Dealing with Harassment
If you believe your child is being harassed or bullied at school, our disabilities and education legal team at KSLN will help you fight for your child’s right to a safe and encouraging school environment. We can help you work with your child’s IEP team, or school administration to include proactive anti-bullying measures by teachers and administrators. If necessary, we can also help you negotiate with administrators about moving your child to a different class or school.
To learn more about KSLN, and how we can help you, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.