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BULLYING AND THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD Edward J. Nitkewicz.

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Presentation on theme: "BULLYING AND THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD Edward J. Nitkewicz."— Presentation transcript:

1 BULLYING AND THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD Edward J. Nitkewicz

2 If you want your child to be bullied mercilessly, make sure that his green top hat matches his green tie on Easter Sunday. How to make sure your child is bullied…..

3 What is bullying?  Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength.  Typically it is repeated over time.  A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

4 Prevalence of bullying  Studies show that between % of students are bullied.  Studies show that 15-20% of students report that they have bullied others  Half of the victims report that the bullying lasted 6 months or longer.  Bullying has been identified as a major concern by schools across the country.

5 More statistics  Boys are more likely to bully others  Verbal bullying is the most frequent form of bullying  Boys are more likely to be physically bullied  Girls are more likely to be targets of rumor and sexual comments  Speculation about sexual orientation or behavior is most common form

6 And because our plates are not already piled high enough…  …studies confirm that children with disabilities or special needs are at a higher risk of being bullied than other students.

7 THE IMPACT OF BULLYING  Causes child to be depressed, lonely, anxious and fearful  Interferes with student’s engagement and learning opportunity  Lowers self esteem  Suicide

8 We need to change the way others see, hear and know our children. THERE IS AN ANSWER

9 Meet the Bully  The Good News is that he doesn’t look like this  The Bad News is that he doesn’t look like this  He is likely to be someone’s beautiful boy or girl

10 Traits of bully  Impulsive  Hot-headed  Dominant  Easily frustrated  Difficulty with rules  View violence in a positive way (“eye for an eye”)  Tend to be physically stronger  But, smaller children can seek out bigger and weaker children  Angry

11 Family risk factors for bullying  Children who bully are more likely to live in homes where there is:  Lack of parental warmth and involvement  Lack of supervision  Lack of behavioral limits and boundaries  Harsh physical discipline  Model for bullying behavior  U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

12 Historical perspective  Climbing the social ladder included witty put downs of the disabled  The “Tart Cart”  The “Blueberry”  The “Horticulture Club”  The “Room in the Corner”  “Julie”  Disability Awareness  Resume building community service  College applications requiring students to demonstrate social awareness  Fraternal approach to the disabled Before IDEAToday

13 What can parents do?

14 Okay, what can we REALLY do?  Prevention through awareness and education  Intervention  Support

15 The Ambassador Program  A disability awareness program at South Huntington UFSD  History  Purpose  Impact.  “Hey, your Mr. Nitkewicz aren’t you?”  Emphasis on demystification of our children and their disabilities  Create a bond between the special needs and typical communities

16 EMPATHY  The key to understanding the special needs person  The key to overcoming bullying  Fostering empathy in our community, our schools, among our fellow parents and our childrens’ classmates is crucial

17 “Mr. Nitkewicz, I am not for special education.”  Fear and ignorance  George Kunzler  De-mystification  Familiarize others regarding the unique qualities our children possess

18 Intervention or helping our children deal with bullying  Role playing  Immediate generalization  Social Stories  Video modeling

19 Communication with your school district  Be a firm but reasonable presence  Be clear that if your child is bullied, you EXPECT a resolution  The remedy cannot further ostracize your child  Not an easy task, but one that requires more than a “kids will be kids” approach  Review your district’s anti-bullying policy in the student code  Let the district propose the resolution

20 Cyber bullying  Our children are highly susceptible to cyber-bullies  Easier to bully, to tease, to defame, to torment another when you do not have to “look them in the eye”  You need to know the internet sites and web habits of your children

21 How to prevent cyber bullying  Know your school’s cyber bully policies  Know the relationship between the school and law enforcement  Look for signs your child is suffering from nightmares, avoiding school, sadness or disinterest  Establish a dialogue with your child regarding computer and internet use and cyber bullying  Keep computers in common areas of house  Equip computers with Print Screen capacity  Impress that personal information should not be exchanged or posted  Know your internet service providers complaint procedure  Communicate with your child  Know your child’s cyber friends and lists

22 When cyber bullying occurs  Use social stories to explain what they are experiencing  Encourage your child to confide in you without repercussion  Impress upon them the need to reply in only one way: please stop  Report the incident to your school district AND your special education director

23 Suicide prevention  Children with special needs are also susceptible to suicidal thoughts  Monitor their moods and avoidance behaviors  Non-judgmental and open communication in whatever form it takes  Key to earning their trust  Our children are socially impaired and must feel safe confiding in us

24 Response of Suffolk County, Inc.  Response of Suffolk County is a nationally accredited, community-based suicide prevention agency that provides a free, confidential and anonymous hotline available to anyone who needs suicide counseling.  Response’s services also include an online crisis counseling program, a community education program, as well as a current computerized information and referral database connecting callers with the most appropriate community resources to meet their needs.  Call 24 hours a day. Seven days per week

25 Hear 2 Help online crisis counseling  Response offers online crisis counseling for individuals who would rather chat than talk.  During after-school hours - Monday thru Friday from 5 pm to 11 pm – students can speak with a crisis counselor online.  Response counselors are not therapists, but professionally trained and supervised counselors who will talk with callers about any issues of crisis including peer pressure, relationship difficulties, thoughts of suicide, and bullying.

26 How do I protect my child?

27 Bullying prevention for the parent of a special needs child  Open and respectful dialogue with your child  Awareness of mood swings or changes in communication  Open and respectful dialogue with the education team  Community awareness  Peer education  Providing your child with a method of report and disclosure through discussion or social stories  Vigilance with regard to your child’s use of the Internet

28 Edward J. Nitkewicz Parent, Advocate and Attorney at Law The Sanders Law Firm 100 Herricks Road Mineola, New York


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