Bullying In Special Education And Its Effects Education Essay

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When a parent or guardian sends their child to school they are expecting that the child is safe from harm, but is that always the case? With the way bullying is becoming more prevalent in schools the chances of a completely safe environment for students in dwindling.

In the past the issue of bullying had a negative but mild connotation behind it. In the past bullying use to me more like pranking each other and now is physical or emotional harm to another person. Even further, bullying has spread from in school to busses and through cyber interaction.

In 1983, a survey was conducted that stated that 15 percent of 150,000 Scandinavian students were someway involved with bullying (either by being the victim, being the bully, or both). To compare, the study was repeated in 2002 by the same group in the same area stated. This time the group found that out of 11,000 students approximately 65% of students had experienced bullying. They also discovered the rise in the number of bullying occurrences in a week. The results of this study were astounding; in less than 20 years there was almost a 50 percent rise in the number of students experiencing bullying. If you read that and said "Oh that's just Scandinavia and doesn't reflect the United States" know that data from other countries (United States included) show the same or worse results (Olweus, 2003).

The specific cause of the rise in occurrences of bullying is unknown; however, there are many factors that could be at fault. One factor that is often discussed is the negative influences of violence in the media. Cheryl Olson, author of Media Violence Research and Youth Violence Data: Why Do They Conflict?, states that "Further research is needed on whether violent games may affect less dramatic but real concerns such as bullying, fighting, or attitudes and beliefs that support aggression . . . " but how do you deny that if a child is seeing and performing these behaviors in a third person player point of view that something would stick in their mind, especially with the imagination capabilities a child has. Also, the amount of media interaction a child experiences (i.e. watching movies or playing video games) is raising. This being said, a child is exposed to these negative behaviors for a longer time on regular basis; there has to be some negative learning occurring. Another factor that has effect bullying over the years is the rise in differences of students in schools. This means there are more factors now than there were in the past that could create contrasting things between two students or even a group of students. One cause of this is the fact that the opinions' of parents are passed down to their children; whether they are good or bad. This often, unfortunately, includes the hatred towards people different than them. First it was discrimination of people of different ethnicities, then people with disabilities, and now homosexuals. In addition, since bullying is often performed on the outsider, it is easy to see why these minorities would often be the victims. There are many other factors to consider, but since there is little plausible facts who really knows what all has caused the rise?

Students in Special Education are often involved in bullying. In fact, when compared to students without disabilities, students with disabilities are twice as likely to be involved in bullying; either by being target of bullying or performing behavior that is considered bullying (Rose 2011). When it comes to bullying in special education there are three main parts to consider; the bullied, the bullies, and the effects on each.

Students in Special Education being bullied

When discussing students in Special Education being bullied there are two things to consider: why and why is the number rising? The answer to "why?" is much more difficult to answer because it is all based on a matter opinion. The prevalence of inclusion and least restrictive environment are two big concepts that didn't exist in the past and now greatly affect the interaction between students in Special Education and general education. With both of those concepts students who were once in different classrooms (or even different schools) are now together in one. This has caused a mix that students' parents probably never dealt with and is making students come to their own terms on how to be co-educated. As students come to terms with this the bullying in special education would most likely decrease but until then three things cause the most issue for students in Special Education: the bullies desire to pick on the different or weak, and jealousy.

As sad as it is, it is the norm to fit in the society. Originality or differences are looked down upon and often are the cause of bullying. In the case of students in Special Education, some disabilities have specific physical attributes that cause them to look different and stand out. Along with that, more times than not students in Special Education are in the lower class and can't afford "in" styles of clothing. Reports done by the National Center for Education Statistics on students in kindergarten and grades first, third, and fifth, show that out of the approximately 10% of students receive special education services. Out of that nearly 10%, almost 6% are poor; meaning the family income is below the poverty line (US Department of Education, 2007). Also, some students in Special Education are unable to dress themselves and the job might be left in a less up-to-date person dressing them. All of these things are just a few of the many factors that might cause a student in Special Education to physically look different and give bullies a reason to pick on them.

Linked to that, students in Special Education are often victims of bullying because they are viewed as weak. When a student looks venerable and easy to pick on a bully is more likely to target them because it makes the bully feel more powerful, there is a less likely chance of a return attack, and the bullying would do more emotional, physical, or mental damage to the student. This opinion of weakness could be from the appearance of assistive technologies, personal aids, and physical attribute of a disability (or other things that make the student appear less capable of protecting his or herself).

The third reason why a student in Special Education is more likely to be bullied is the fact that other students might be jealous of the certain privileges the students in Special Education receive. Being a student in general education some of the adaptations that students in Special Education receive might be viewed as unfair; including, extended due dates, shorter assignments and tests, and in some cases an easier grading scale. Students, in this case, will bully students because they are envious of what they have or because they feel the need to make things fairer and take this need for equal treatment in their own hands by tormenting the student. However, bullying another student because they have something he or she may want never gets the student what it is that they want.

The next thing to address is the question of why the rise; which links to the new existence of inclusion and least restrictive environment. Since in the past the two populations of students (special education and general education) were almost completely separate it takes time for students to become accustomed to something new. In this adjustment period, bullying will often occur because the differences are the first things students notice about each other.

The rise in the identification was also dedicated to formation of laws directed towards the education of students needing special adaptations. Since the creation of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, in 1990 and the revision to it in 2004 there has been a larger number of students being identified and mainstreamed into public schools. This is because IDEA provides federal aid (through funding and enforcement) to children with disabilities in education; meaning that schools can now get government money to pay for adaptations and services for students with special needs. Schools began to push towards identifying students to receive the funding but the money wasn't always spent on the adaptations it was intended for. In 2004, IDEA was revised to IDEIA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. IDEIA's main function was to hold teachers and administrative people responsible for each child's education by doing things such as: meeting the procedural requirements of the IDEA, develop educationally meaningful IEPs, conduct relevant assessments, and placing students in the least restrictive environment. This revision created a more serious attitude towards special education and identifying students. With this funding and serious attitude the number of students in Special Education continued to rise, giving bullies more victims.

On top of the rise in identification of students with special needs, awareness of these students in schools has also added to the awareness of differences between the two populations of students. In the past, Special Education was almost no existent and the rise in it has been fast, faster than many people have been able to keep up with. Now that people are finally catching up, there is a lot more discussion about Special Education than there was ten years ago. This talk is traveling from parents to the students and making students ask questions like "What is Special Education?" and (reverting back to students being jealous of accommodations) "Why do they get special, easier treatment in school?"

An important thing to think about is that inclusion, jealousy, picking on the different or weak, and rising numbers and awareness all have one thing in common; they will continue to grow and cause the bullying of students in Special Education unless something is done. If the present generation of students is taught not to bully and hate difference between them and their peers then they will pass that down to generations to follow; essentially eliminating bullying all together.

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." -Nelson Mandela

Students in Special Education bullying

Now that the issue of students in Special Education being bullied has been addressed, the next issue of those students being the bully must be addressed. But what would cause students who are often victims to victimize others? Negatively built relationships because of the negative connotation of Special Education, insecurities because of disabilities, and learning through what they witness are three answers to this.

According to a study on bullying and victimization of students with exceptionalities, ". . . we have come to understand bullying as a relationship problem, rather than a problem with an individual child's aggression" (Cummings, 2006). If a child is in an educational environment where they are constantly denied relationships with the mass because they are different (in Special Education) than they are more likely to become angry and lack necessary connections with people and turn to bullying people to have power over other people. The study continues by stating that bullying gives the child the power and attention for peer groups they desire that would normally be given through relationships with others. Along with this lack of relationships, insecurities in his or her self could cause a student to become a bully. Children, when they feel inadequate, often will tear people around them down to what they feel is equal to them in order to be like them and have a connection. This bringing someone down can be hate crimes such as physical or mental damage and it can be through verbal damage or someone viewed as a friend. The feeling of inadequacy can be from lack of relationships as well as previous bullying. Unfortunately, bullying is a cycle. Students are often bullied and then bully because of insecurities created by being bullied. Bertrand Russell author of "Education and the Social Order" once discussed his run in with a medium sized boy who was bullying a smaller boy. He confronted the boy and asked why; his received reply was, "The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair". Students don't even have to experience bullying first hand. If they witness bullying or even abuse (at home or in school) then they will grow accustomed to it and believe that it is the normal acceptable behavior. Bullying is much like a forest fire; it will continue to devour and spread until it is stopped.

New ways to Bully

With the creation and expansion of use of the internet, bullying has spread and created a new issue, Cyber Bullying. Cyber Bullying can be defined as the act of a person or group of being using electronics contact forms to perform aggressive and intentional acts towards another individual multiple times over a period of time (Didden, 2009). This is extremely dangerous because the bullied student or person has no way of defending himself or herself and the bully can be easily disguised. Another problem with Cyber Bullying is that there are so many different forms of electronic communication that it is nearly impossible to stop. Actually, the only real way to stop a situation where a student is being Cyber Bullied is to cut connection to technology and even still the harassment may still continue just without the awareness of the victim. Ultimately, this elimination of communication through technology is impossible because we rely on it and we use communicative technology for many other important things. In fact, technology is quickly becoming the top (and possibly only) form of communication. The more prevalent use of technology to communicate will continue to cause a rise in Cyber bullying. This situation is even greater for students in Special Education because many of the accommodations are though technological devices that can also be used to communicate or be bullied on. Suggestions for preventing and managing Cyber Bullying include the awareness and knowledge of Cyber Bullying and proper use of technology (Didden, 2009).

Effects Bullying has on Students in Special Education

Yes, there are a very few positive effects bullying can present; such as teaching a student to stand up for his or herself or, well that is really the only positive aspect bullying can present. Bullying is not good for either party unless it's a situation where the student is rising against the bully. What really have created an issue with bullying are the negative effects it has on students. The negative outcomes from bullying greatly outweigh the one possible positive. Bullying can cause damage to a student for their entire life. Overall, the saddest outcome from Bullying is the rise in suicides among teens due to this harassment. Students who are bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider. A study was conducted in Britain that showed results saying that half (if not more) of suicides among young people were an outcome of being bullied. These statistics are scary, especially considering that suicide is the third top leading cause of death among teens (Bullying Statistics, 2009).

Resources and Programs Available

Since bullying is becoming an epidemic, there are many programs and resources available to prevent it. One of these would be The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This program is a "multilevel, multicomponent school-based program that . . . attempts to restructure the existing school environment to reduce opportunities and rewards for bullying." This program also puts a lot of the responsibility in the teachers' hands for implementation and support (Brown University, 2005).

Along with the existence of programs, there are also resources that can be used that require only slight implementation and hold less responsibility on the teachers. An example of this would be something called a "bully box". A bully box is used for students to communicate situations where either they are being bullied or they are witnessing someone else being bullied. This way the student can be anonymous and better protected and the teacher or administrator in charge can handle the bully. Another example of this is big brothers or sisters, where younger students are paired with older students. In an ideal situation, the two students will form a connection where the younger student will feel safe to share incidents of being bullied. The older students are trained on how to respond and what to do in situations. The downfall to this is that the two must have a connection and it only helps if younger children are being bullied.


In conclusion, Bullying is a rapidly growing problem in schools and is more prevalent in Special Education than anywhere else. This rapid growth could be a result of the high amount of violence in media and the growth of media connections or the idea of discrimination being passed down by parents. With bullying there are two types of people involved the bullied and they bully. When it comes to special education students being bullied inclusion and least restrict environment have taken part in the rise. Since before students in Special Education and students in General Education hardly mixed, there was a lack of awareness of the difference between the two populations of students. Now that a majority of students in Special Education are mainstreamed there is a period of adjustment occurring. Three things that are being evaluated are the differences, the view of belittlement, and the jealousy from accommodations. The next situation is when the student in Special Education is doing the bullying. This can be a result of the students having problems with relationships, learning to bully because they have been bullied, and insecurities.

A new topic in bullying that needs to be addressed is the insanely fast growth in Cyber Bullying. With the way the world is becoming dependent on technology, this type of bullying is only going to keep growing. If it progresses, so will the effects of bullying. Bullying is responsible for half of teen suicides which is the top third cause of death among teens. However, there are programs and resources available for use to stop or decrease bullying. Ultimately, in order for bullying to stop many huge actions must occur. These actions must be worldwide and heavily enforced. Bullying will continue to be a problem in the future unless people now begin to do something about it.

"We've got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage that it's some inevitable part of growing up. It's not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all kids"- President Barak Obama



(OLSON) http://ap.psychiatryonline.org.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/article.aspx?articleid=48012

(ROSE) http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c230a0f6-2513-40e2-bb62-2490006b47f7%40sessionmgr111&vid=2&hid=108

(US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION) http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED497536.pdf

(YELL) http://isc.sagepub.com.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/content/44/1/45

(CUMMINGS) http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4706c75c-6547-49f1-924d-6e79877d3eb4%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=119

(RUSSELL) Education and the Social Order

(DIDDEN) http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6997bc2a-009a-4b0d-bba5-6ae501945cf2%40sessionmgr104&vid=2&hid=119

(NEIMAN) http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.ohiou.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ae3b24c7-dfa7-4a91-8594-8bfd1b782bb1%40sessionmgr111&vid=2&hid=107