Bullying & Cyberbullying: Update for Parents of Students in Special Education

By Spoede, John; Reed, Dianne | The Exceptional Parent, February 2016 | Go to article overview

Bullying & Cyberbullying: Update for Parents of Students in Special Education


Spoede, John, Reed, Dianne, The Exceptional Parent


Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children. It involves a real or perceived power imbalance, and the behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (Bauman, Cross, & Walker, 2014). Bullying takes many forms, from direct physical harm (physical bullying); to verbal taunts and threats (verbal bullying); to exclusion, humiliation, and rumor-spreading (relational or social bullying); to electronic harassment using texts, e-mails, or online mediums (cyberbullying). Although physical and cyberbullying are often of greatest concern, social and verbal bullying are the more common forms experienced by students (Bauman, Cross, & Walker, 2014). In an article by Spoede and Reed (2015), several recommendations related to the issues of bullying including cyberbullying of students in special education were presented for school personnel. All of the materials referenced were based on current research studies from 2014 and 2015. Similarly, this article will enumerate recommendations for parents, school personnel, and community members related to the issues of bullying including cyberbullying of students in special education.

DETERRING BULLYING BEHAVIORS: IT TAKES A VILLAGE

Recent research indicate that bullying behaviors may be deterred through joint efforts of parents, school personnel, and community members working together. Hughes (2014) suggests that a variety of school staff, community members, and parents should be involved in developing and assessing the effectiveness of bullying awareness, prevention and intervention programs, and data should be collected and reported to enhance future programs (Rodkin, Espelage, & Hanish, 2015). Bullying prevention and intervention programs that include support systems for bullied children may be established system-wide. (Rodkin, Espelage, & Hanish, 2015).

It is important to note that school bullying awareness, prevention, and intervention programs should include cyberbullying as a component for all programs (Heiman & Olenik-Shemesh, 2015). Additionally, there should be deliberate discussions aimed at promoting technology awareness, privacy protection and anonymous reporting of observed cyberbullying in order to increase digital upstanders (Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2014). Parents and community members can actively create and support cyberbullying awareness programs for parents, and actively offer parent and student trainings and information about technology awareness, privacy protection, and anonymous reporting of observed cyberbullying. Schools should work with parents and community members to assist with teaching students with disabilities about online safety (Good & Fang, 2015).

O'Brennan, Waasdrop, and Bradshaw (2014) support collaboration between parents, community members, and school personnel regarding deterring bullying behaviors through encouraging the increase of connectedness between parents and school personnel. The researchers believe that this increased connectedness will lead to a deeper level of comfort for school personnel to quickly intervene when inappropriate behaviors occur. Parents can show their support by participating and facilitating school personnel appreciations and socializations.

PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN OPEN COMMUNICATION IN ADDRESSING BULLYING ISSUES IN THE SCHOOL

Parents should take on the primary position of asking their child to provide details of the bullying situations so that the information can be shared with school personnel. Children with disabilities do not always realize they are being bullied. They may, for example, believe that they have a new friend although this "friend" is making fun of them (Cortes & Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2014). Parents should be supportive of the child and encourage him or her to describe who was involved and how and where the bullying happened. Parents should ask the child specific questions about his or her friendships. …

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