The Truth About Bullying and LD
Page 1 of 2It’s hard to assign a number to describe the incidence of bullying—data from different sources report different findings—but one thing is certain; the deeper you dig, the clearer it becomes that the prevalence of bullying is staggering. *
- 10% of children report having been the victims of severe bullying at least once during the school year
- 75% report being bullied at least once during the past 10 months
- 25–50% report being bullied at some point during their school years
- Every day, more than 160,000 students skip school because they are fearful of being bullied
- 40–75% of bullying incidents in school take place during class breaks, in the lunchroom, bathroom or hallways
And How About These Findings?
- 30% of children who suffer from food allergies report being bullied at school (sometimes by verbal taunting but more often, by having the allergen thrown or waved at them!)
- 30% of children who report having been bullied said they sometimes brought weapons to school
- 60% of boys who engaged in bullying behavior during grades 1–9 were convicted of at least one crime by age 24
- The average bullying episode lasts only 37 seconds, and school personnel are reported to notice or intervene in only one in 25 incidents (in contrast to another report where teachers said they intervened 71% of the time and students reported teachers taking action only 25% of the time)
Whether the number is 10% or 75%, the message is clear: bullying is widespread, often goes unnoticed, and can have immediate and long-lasting consequences.
And What About Students With Learning Disabilities?Are children with LD at special risk for being harassed, bullied or intimidated? Consider the following:
- A second grader with dyslexia whose difficulties with decoding unfamiliar words results in giggling and name calling whenever he is called upon to read aloud or write on the board in class (with this taunting more often than not carrying over into other setting, such as the cafeteria and school yard, and leaving an indelible impression about this child that will mark him as different for years to come)
- A fifth grader with LD and ADHD who, despite her enthusiasm, creativity and deep knowledge of the subject matter, is always the last to be chosen by peers for group projects because of her disorganized approach to work and her need for initial modeling and structure when working on assignments
- A ninth grader with LD and ADHD who is told not to climb on the new gym equipment but is egged on by his peers until he succumbs and breaks the rules, resulting in punishment and further victimization by his peers
- An eleventh grader with LD who struggles with rapid reading and short-term memory and comprehension deficits whose guidance counselor is discouraging him from setting his sights on enrollment in a competitive college physics and robotics program (when math and science are areas in which he excels academically)
Some might agree that these are examples of bullying behavior, and others might say that they describe how individuals with LD often suffer from the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” The reality is that all students are vulnerable to the negative impact of bullying, and students with dyslexia and specific learning disabilities, ADHD and other disorders that impact learning and behavior are indeed at special risk. They are often vulnerable by virtue of their having low self-esteem triggered by low achievement. They might see themselves as outsiders in their peer groups and often have trouble making and keeping friends because their need for special types of intervention, accommodations and support are misunderstood.