I am often dismayed when I talk with our clients about their life experiences. A consistent thread in the conversation relates is the treatment they have received from people in the community when growing up, especially when attending school.

Children with disabilities are more likely to be victims of bullying. Last year 56 per cent of students with a disability had experienced bullying in the previous 12 months. That is more than twice the rate of bullying it is estimated the general population of school-aged children experiences*.

* Children and Young People with Disability Australia.

Bullying and abuse can severely impact on a person’s life, not only in the short-term. The wounds inflicted at an early age leave deep scars that are carried into adulthood and can often lead to substance abuse, isolation and suicide.

People who are bullied often have low self-esteem and deep-seated mental health issues. Children and teens with intellectual or physical disabilities can also be more likely to experience anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. Behaviours and experiences are often undiagnosed and untreated.

Unfortunately, we all have experience of bullying, some as the perpetrator, others as the victim or as an observer. There are a number of contributing factors that can make a child more likely to be a victim of bullying, these include:

  • having a learning disability;
  • personal appearance
  • having a speech impairment;
  • being clumsy;
  • not having good social or emotional skills;
  • reacting to situations unpredictably.

I was taught to accept other peoples’ differences. I work in an environment that employs people with different background, personalities and beliefs. IDS supports clients with a range of disabilities. Each has their own story, and they all make working at Independent Disability Services all the more rewarding.

The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is on 15 March 2019. Schools across Australia will be standing together to say Bullying. No Way! The annual event is a key anti-bullying day for schools and encourages all Australian students to stand united against bullying and violence.

For more information on how to support the day and become involved go to: https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/NationalDay

Ian Payne – IDS Communications Manager