Recognizing, Preventing, and Managing Bullying

Recognizing, Preventing, and
Managing Bullying: What SLPs Can
Stephanie Hughes, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
University of Toledo
[email protected]
What is bullying?
“Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior
among school aged children that involves a
real or perceived power imbalance. The
behavior is repeated, or has the potential
to be repeated, over time.”
◦ Also known as a “target” or “target of bullying.”
◦ Better to say “student who is bullied.”
◦ Better to say “student who bullies others.”
◦ Child who is both bullied and bullies others
Provocative victim
◦ Child whose behaviors unintentionally draw
negative attention and bullying to him/herself
What are some of the effects and
warning signs of bullying?
 Physical illness
 Sleep disorders
 Absenteeism
 Poor academic performance
 Depression (both victim and bully)
 More likely to think about or attempt
suicide than peers (both victim and bully)
What are the types of bullying?
Overt (Direct)
◦ Physical bullying
 Kicking
 Hitting, punching
 Shoving
◦ Verbal bullying
 Teasing
 Name calling
 Threatening
Covert (Indirect)
◦ Relational bullying
 Shunning
 Excluding
 Spreading rumors
◦ Cyber bullying
Who bullies?
Popular students have power over peers and
are less likely to get in trouble for bullying.
The “loners” and “misfits” may engage in
retaliatory bullying against younger/weaker
◦ Kids with ASD and ADHD often tend to be
“provocative victims.”
Boys tend to bully more than girls, though
girls seem more likely to engage in relational
Why does bullying happen?
Students are trying to establish their place in
the social hierarchy; some seek social
◦ Bullying occurs most often in middle school and
when students are transitioning from one school
environment to another.
Can result from inequalities stemming from
socioeconomic status or race/ethnicity.
 Great pressures to conform to gender
norms, especially rigid ideas about
masculinity and heterosexuality.
How often does bullying occur?
Bullying happens quickly and often in
elementary school, but teachers respond to
little of it.
In middle and high school, students can
experience or participate in bullying as
bullies, victims, or bully/victims.
A national survey of 6th-10th graders found
53.6% of bullying was verbal
51.4% of bullying was relational
20.8% of bullying was physical
13.6% of bullying was cyber bullying
Do the students on my caseload
experience bullying?
Children with language impairments, autism,
and stuttering report that they have
experienced bullying or are at greater risk
for being bullied than peers.
Exclusion in preschool is associated with
future peer rejection.
◦ Preschoolers with communication disorders have
fewer positive social interactions with peers.
◦ Negative peer perceptions of older children with
communication disorders
What are my legal obligations to
students with communication
According to the Office of Civil Rights (2010),
school districts may violate students’ civil rights
“when peer harassment based on…disability is
sufficiently serious that it creates a hostile
environment and such harassment is encouraged,
tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored
by school employees.”
 Administrators, school personnel and SLPs can be
held liable if they do not address bullying of
students with communication disorders.
How can bullying be prevented?
Collaborative efforts from schools and
school districts, classroom teachers and
other school personnel, parents, and
 Develop clear anti-bullying messages;
students should know that bullying is not
tolerated in school or in speech-therapy
 Create an environment that is inclusive of
all students.
What can I do as an SLP?
Join or start an anti-bullying policy
committee in your school or community.
◦ Advocate for children with communication
disorders who may be provocative victims or
bully/victims (no zero-tolerance policies).
Survey students on your caseload and
their parents to determine the extent to
which they are bullied and need support.
 Begin a dialogue about bullying with
How can I respond appropriately to
bullying and reports of bullying?
Listen to the child, and thank him/her for
telling you. Report bullying to the
appropriate person at school, and follow
up with the child.
 Avoid advice like, “If you wouldn’t cry in
front of them and would just stand up to
them, the bullies would leave you alone.”
 Focus on developing social skills and antibullying strategies in therapy.
How should I address bullying in
Teach children about the nature of bullying (e.g.,
why students bully others, that bullying is not
their fault).
Help children to develop and role-play assertive,
alternative behaviors to some typically nonhelpful responses to bullying (e.g., threatening,
hitting, crying, etc.).
Incorporate carefully selected, typically developing
peers into therapeutic activities and social groups.
◦ Michelle Garcia Winner’s (2008) Social Thinking
program (and others like it) can help develop better
peer relationships.
What strategies do you and your
school use to address bullying?
We have relatively little data about the
strategies SLPs use to address bullying
and the extent to which students with
communication disorders have found
these strategies helpful.
 Clinicians in schools can make a
difference by sharing resources and
strategies, especially if these can be
measured and reported scientifically.
Additional Resources
◦ A federal government website managed by the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
◦ PACER’s bullying prevention resources are
designed to benefit all students, including students
with disabilities.
◦ Website of the International Bullying Prevention

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