Children with special needs or emotional/ behavioural difficulties are more likely to be involved in bullying. They also may be less able to accurately report what has happened, meaning that bullying of these children is often more difficult to pick up on and resolve.
What can I do?
As part of your normal routine...
- Be alert for changes in what is usual for your child. Some SEN children will not be able to tell you if they are being bullied so look for unspoken signs too.
- If you use a communication system, make sure it allows your child to tell you about bullying. You could make some picture cards or learn some new signs to communicate this.
- Make sure your child knows what bullying is.
If you think something has happened...
- Try not to panic!
- Some children (especially those with BESD) need time to calm down before they can go through what happened. However, some children with SEN find it difficult to remember if you leave it too long. Try to find the right balance.
- If going back over the incident will upset your child, try to find out what happened from the school so you can be involved in sorting out the problem.
- Establish who was involved. It might be helpful to try and get a description as well as a name.
- Get as much information as you can about what happened. You could draw a picture or timeline if this helps. Check the story through to make sure you have understood.
- Talk to the school and work together. If you go in, make sure you tell your child you will be there. It can be confusing if a parent is suddenly spotted in school at an unusual time.
- Tell your child what will happen next and ask them to repeat this back to you so you can be sure they understood.
Make sure any bullying problems are included at the annual review, even if this is only to say that they have now been sorted out.
Bullying of children with SEN can be very distressing. You do not have to deal with it on your own.
If you have bullying concerns you could involve any of the other professionals who usually work with you and your child, like the Educational Psychologist or Behaviour Support Worker.