Whatever the reason, bullying is something we all need to think about. Whether we've done it ourselves ... or whether friends or other people we know are doing it ... we all need to recognize that bullying has a terrible effect on the lives of young people. It may not be happening to you today, but it could tomorrow.
- Studies show that between 15-25% of U.S. students are bullied with some frequency, while 15-20% report they bully others with some frequency (Melton et al, 1988; Nansel et al, 2001). Young people who bully are more likely than those who don't bully to skip school and drop out of school. They are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and get into fights (Nansel et al, 2003; Olweus, 1993). As many as 160,000 students may stay home on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied (Pollack, 1998). Children who bully are more likely to get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school. And 60% of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24 (Olweus, 1993).
Research shows that between 20% - 30% of school age children are involved in bullying behavior either as the target or the perpetrator. (According to Diana Townsend-Buttorworth author of Your Child’s First School ) And according to Jed Baker 90% of children with Asperger’s are bullied some time in their life.
This can lead to thinking a friend is bullying or thinking a peer is just teasing. It is difficult for our ASD students to clearly see the difference and they can get into some difficult situations.
Because of the lack of awareness of others they may be tuned out when bullying is occurring. This can lead to stronger bullying to get the AS student’s attention. This can be difficult for school personnel to understand – how do they help the student who melts down over seemingly nothing but ignores overt behavior?!
If adults fail to intervene over time the bullying and teasing becomes part of the social fabric of the school. This leads to despair that anything will change.
Teachers and parents who suspect a child is being bullied should make a concerted effort to keep a watchful eye on the student. Many people underestimate the effectiveness of observant adults.
Because many children don’t report their experiences, it is critical that adults and other students are vigilant and responsive to bullying. Unfortunately, adults within the school environment dramatically overestimate their effectiveness in identifying and intervening in bullying situations. For example, in one study, 70% of teachers believed that teachers intervene “almost always” in bullying situations, while only 25% of the students agreed with the teacher’s assessment (Charach et al., 1995). These findings suggest that teachers are unaware of much of the bullying that occurs around them. This is likely because bullying is often difficult to detect and because children often do not report bullying to adults. Perhaps even more disturbing…many children also question the commitment of teachers and administrators to stopping bullying. For example, in a recent study of 9th grade students (Harris et al., 2002), only one-third believed that their teachers were interested in trying to stop bullying. Forty-four percent reported that they did not know if their teachers were interested in stopping bullying, and 21% felt that their teachers were not interested. Even fewer students (25%) believed that administrators at their school were interested in stopping bullying. Sample citations: Charach, A., Pepler, D. J., & Zieler, S. (1995). Bullying at school: A Canadian perspective. Education Canada, 35 , 12-18. Harris, S., Petrie, G., & Willoughby, W. (2002). Bullying among 9 th graders: An exploratory study. NASSP Bulletin 86 (630) .
Unfortunately, not all approaches to bullying prevention and intervention are likely to be effective. In recent years, a number of misdirected strategies have been developed (albeit by committed and caring adults). These “misdirections” include: Zero tolerance policies Conflict resolution and peer mediation Group treatment for children who bully Simple, short-term solutions For more information: See the Stop Bullying Now fact sheet entitled, “Misdirections in Bullying Prevention and Intervention” (www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov)
Bullying And Aspergers Syndrome
Bullying and Asperger’s Syndrome Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf Associate Director AANE 617-393-3824 x 316 certification & training in autism spectrum disorders (c)copyright 2007
Why do kids bully? <ul><li>There are all kinds of reasons why young people bully others, either occasionally or often. Do any of these sound familiar to you? </li></ul>
<ul><li>Because I see others doing it </li></ul><ul><li>Because it's what you do if you want to hang out with the right crowd </li></ul><ul><li>Because it makes me feel, stronger, smarter, or better than the person I'm bullying </li></ul><ul><li>Because it's one of the best ways to keep others from bullying me </li></ul>
Effects of Bullying! <ul><li>Have you ever heard an adult - or anyone else - say that bullying is “just a fact of life” or “no big deal”, or “boys will be boys”? Many people feel this way. Too often, people just don't take bullying seriously - until something terrible happens. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It happens a lot more than some people think </li></ul><ul><li>It can mess up a kid's future . </li></ul><ul><li>It scares some people so much that they skip school . </li></ul><ul><li>It can lead to huge problems later in life </li></ul>
What does bullying look like? Bullying is when another person is harmed either physically or emotionally. Bullying is when someone is hurt and has difficulty defending themselves. It may look like:
<ul><li>Getting shoved, pushed, or kicked </li></ul><ul><li>Spreading rumors about others - this may be done online through e-mail, instant message, chat rooms etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Teasing in a mean way, especially in front of an audience </li></ul><ul><li>Getting others to exclude someone </li></ul><ul><li>Cyber-bullying happens over the internet or on cell phones out of the view of adults! </li></ul>
Why should we care? Bullying is more common than many people think. It effects children’s mental health as well as physical health. It can also effect school work and family relationships . Bullying can have long lasting effects – some adults well into their 30’s clearly remember incidents of being bullied!
Some Negative Effects of Bullying <ul><li>Many children who are bullied have low self-esteem which continues for many years. </li></ul><ul><li>Children also complain of headaches, concentration difficulties, depression, and stomach aches. </li></ul><ul><li>Bystanders often mention feeling scared that they will be next and guilty that they couldn’t or didn’t help. They also talk about being distracted from school work . </li></ul>
Why are students with Asperger’s targets? <ul><li>According to Nick Dubin author of </li></ul><ul><li>Asperger’s Syndrome and Bullying the </li></ul><ul><li>majority of individuals with Asperger’s </li></ul><ul><li>will experience repeated bullying </li></ul><ul><li>and/or victimization at school. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Students with Asperger’s are easy targets for a variety of reasons; </li></ul><ul><li>They appear different than their </li></ul><ul><li>typically developing peers. </li></ul><ul><li>They are not always aware of the teasing or bullying behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of low social IQ they let things build up then retaliate without the perception of what the punishments might be. </li></ul>
Appearing different <ul><li>Because of Special Interests the student with Asperger’s may seem out of step with their peers. These interests may be boring to other students so the difficulty becomes finding people with similar interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of our students have motor difficulties so participating in athletics is challenging. Even games at recess may be demanding. </li></ul>
Appearing different (con’t) <ul><li>Low frustration tolerance can lead to meltdowns and children who meltdown in school stand out from their peers! </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty with multi-tasking and interpreting people’s intentions may lead the student with Asperger’s to frustration much more quickly than typically developing students. </li></ul><ul><li>Many children with Asperger’s process information at a different pace than expected. They may appear “spacey” or not listening, then when they respond it is too late. </li></ul>
Not Aware of Bullying Behavior <ul><li>Many children with Asperger’s or other socially challenging disorders can’t tell the difference between good natured teasing or someone being mean. </li></ul>
Low Social IQ <ul><li>Children with AS, because of built up frustration, may have an over reaction to a situation. </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand they may be completely oblivious to an act of bullying or teasing behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>This can lead to frustration on the part of the school personnel. </li></ul>
What to do?! <ul><li>Many teachers report that they intervene. </li></ul><ul><li>Many students report of low/no intervention. </li></ul><ul><li>Actual data: </li></ul><ul><li>According to Rebekah Heinrichs only about 14% of teachers intervene in episodes of bullying in the classroom and only 4% on the playground ! </li></ul>
Believing the Target <ul><li>Socially savvy students bully “under the radar” </li></ul><ul><li>Old-fashioned view of some schools – </li></ul><ul><li>- If I don’t see it then I can’t do anything. </li></ul><ul><li>- There’s nothing we can do unless a teacher sees the bullying behavior. </li></ul>
New Information <ul><li>If a student reports an act of bullying behavior it needs to be acted upon . </li></ul><ul><li>Students who feel supported by their administration are more likely to report an incident than act in retaliation. </li></ul><ul><li>Stop Bullying Now says, “suspected bullying should never be ignored by adults.” </li></ul>
Adults’ Responsiveness to Bullying <ul><li>Adults overestimate their effectiveness in identifying bullying and intervening. </li></ul><ul><li>Many children question the commitment of teachers and administrators to stopping bullying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>35% believed teachers were interested in stopping bullying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>25% believed administrators were interested in stopping bullying (Harris et al., 2002). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(from Stop Bullying Now) </li></ul></ul>
Assessing the Situation <ul><li>Develop a survey for teachers/staff, parents and students </li></ul><ul><li>Examine various Bullying Prevention Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Visit schools that have instituted bullying prevention programs that are working </li></ul><ul><li>Gather a network of like-minded professionals and community members to join in a partnership to help get started </li></ul>
What YOU can do now <ul><li>Learn more about Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorders. </li></ul><ul><li>Empower yourself to be more aware of what’s happening in your school. </li></ul><ul><li>Feel confident to interrupt bullying or teasing behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Work on positive supports for the students with Asperger’s. </li></ul>
Other ideas <ul><li>Find out if your school or community will host a speaker on the topic </li></ul><ul><li>Start a support group for students </li></ul><ul><li>Host an evening for parents to get together and hear what they have to say </li></ul>
What works in bullying prevention? <ul><li>What is required to reduce bullying in schools is nothing less than a change in the school climate and in norms for behavior . </li></ul><ul><li>This requires a comprehensive, school-wide effort involving the entire school community </li></ul><ul><li>(From Stop Bullying Now) </li></ul>
Find a program that will work for your school and community! www.stopbullyingnow.com www.dontlaugh.org www.antibullying.net www.bullying.org www.preventinghate.org
<ul><li>Asperger’s Association of New England </li></ul><ul><li>www.aane.org </li></ul><ul><li>T: 617-393-3824 </li></ul><ul><li>866-597-2263 </li></ul><ul><li>85 Main Street, Suite 101, Watertown, MA </li></ul><ul><li>02472-4409 </li></ul><ul><li>Changing perspectives – changing lives ! </li></ul>