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Some tips to protect disabled children from bullying

When you have a child with a disability, you are often worried about how they would attend school or spend time with other children who do not have any disabilities. This can be a deep cause of concern for both parents and teachers and there are some steps to address this.

Lack of awareness about disabilities is one of the main reasons why children with disabilities get targeted in schools. Given their vulnerability and sense of isolation, children with disabilities often do not know how to react.

Subhashini Rao, founder of Sankalp Special School in Chennai says that when a child with a disability is admitted in a school, other children must be sensitised by school teachers and staffs.

To begin with, children without disabilities must be given an orientation session on how to interact with a disabled child. Teachers and staffs must be called upon to spread the message. The child must be made part of mainstream school system and not left back. That must be the first step towards inclusion and also to stop bullying. Just because a child is different from others, you cannot sideline him-Subhashini Rao, Founder, Sankalp Special Schol

Here are some tips to protect disabled children from bullying

  • Safe environment - Whether your child is attending school or an institute, make sure that they feel safe and always has someone to count on. They must be able to speak up about their problems to the person, whether it is a teacher or a guide. At the same time, teachers must also be made aware of the needs and requirements of the child.
  • Know the law- There are many laws that protect children with disabilities from harassment and bullying. Speak up for your child if you know that they are going through a tough time from their peers or some others. Ensure that laws are strictly implemented in their schools as well.
  • Talk about bullying to your child - Many a time, children do not understand that they are being bullied. It is important that parents talk to their child about it. Bullying is different from other types of conflicts they may have with peers. Parents must give the child a clear idea of what it is all about.
  • Teach them to respond - Most often, a disabled child cannot respond to bullying like how other children do. They might even be confused and unaware of what is happening. Listen to your child's problems and teach them to respond appropriately. If you think that they are unable to respond during such situations, they must at least speak about this to their teachers or caretakers.

"The ideal thing to do is to make children without disabilities, who are peers, understand the needs of a disabled child', says Shyamashree Bhonsle, an advisor at Jagruti Palak Sanstha, an organisation that works with children with intellectual disabilities. "With more children going to mainstream schools, there are higher chances of them being bullied. Parents and teachers must create awareness about the need for greater empathy and understanding. They must understand that it is their responsibility to take care of their peer with a disability".

ALSO READ: Some tips to help children with learning disabilities

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