Tag Archives: Anti-bullying week

Bullied for being disabled, but we turned it into a positive – Anti Bullying Week

Rosie and Glen were both bullied at school because of their impairments. In this blog they talk about how they moved forward with their lives and want to spread awareness about the bullying many disabled people face. 

Rosie’s story

“Being bullied made me determined to raise awareness about invisible disabilities”.

Being dyspraxic meant at school I always stood out like a sore thumb compared to others.

From the way I walk and move in a clumsy uncoordinated way which was different to others, always falling or bumping into others or other things.

To it’s made me socially anxious and struggle to maintain friendships. I always had and probably will have different interests to people my own age. I’ve always been seen as disorganised, chaotic, messy and a bit all over the place.

Being so different made me an easy target for being at the receiving end of some awful bullying. Words can have such an impact on your life and how you see and perceive yourself. It made me lose what little confidence I had to begin with and really struggle with my mental health and I would hear the words of what people were saying constantly. I thought I must really be stupid as it was constantly being said to me.

I put a lot of the bullying due to lack of awareness to what dyspraxia is, the fact that dyspraxia is invisible to the eye and negative assumptions of what I could or couldn’t achieve. As an adult I still struggle with anxiety and will never be a naturally confident person.

But my experiences made me decide that nobody should have to go through what myself or my family had been through and I was determined that more awareness needed to be raised about issues invisible to the eye.

Rosie 1 edited square

The bullying I experienced has taught me the power of words and why I choose mine so carefully and not make judgements and assumptions about others.

I work as a learning support as a college and know the value of time, patience and empathy can have on students who may be struggling. I have also been able to prove the people wrong who said I wouldn’t achieve anything.

Words have the power to encourage, destroy, make someone loose confidence in themselves or make someone feel hopeful. We can all try and help people feel hopeful.

Glen’s story

“I’m still a little bit shy and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive now”.

I first went to a mainstream school, but it didn’t go well. The teachers didn’t know how to help, and I was bullied by other kids because of my sight loss. So I was removed very quickly, and transferred to a school for the visually impaired that my parents discovered.

Of course, my confidence had been shattered, so I was very shy. Which led to some of the kids at my new school bullying me as well. Not because of my sight, as they were in the same boat, but because they realised they could wind me up easily.

Glen wearing a suit in a park

However, I made good friends, and the teachers were extremely supportive, so my confidence gradually improved over the years. And I even became friends with the kids who had teased me at first. Partly because I was being more successful than them, but I also got to learn more about them, which helped me understand their behaviour and put it into context. We learnt a lot from each other.

So things turned out well in the end. I came away with great friends, fond memories and good results, and got myself a degree and a job. I’m still a little bit shy today, and probably always will be, but I’m far more positive and confident than I would have been if I hadn’t moved schools when I did.

This is an extract from Glen’s blog Well Eye Never. You can read Glen’s full post about bullying here. 

If you have a story you would like to share, contact Scope’s stories team.

Do you need someone to talk to?

ChildLine – 0800 11 11

ChildLine is a free, confidential support service for children and young people. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.

Raising awareness of disability-related bullying

This week is national Anti-Bullying Week, and this year’s theme is disability-related bullying.

Research by the Institute for Education shows that disabled children are twice as likely as other children to experience persistent bullying. This can take many forms including physical abuse, name-calling and cyberbullying.

We’ve teamed up with Ambitious about Autism and the Anti-Bullying Alliance to highlight some of the issues faced by disabled children and young people.

Jack sitting on the edge of a fighting ring
Seventeen year-old MMA fighter Jack

Jack’s story

Jack is doing an apprenticeship and is also possibly the only disabled mixed martial arts fighter in the UK – but part of the reason he took up the sport was as relief from the bullying he experienced at school.

“It started in year eight. Words like ‘spastic’ were thrown around at me and those words got me into trouble at school, because I wouldn’t stand for it.

“It was hard. I don’t want any kids, disabled or not, to go through it, because it was horrible.”

Boxing training helped put things into perspective.

“Over the course of a couple of months, I realised that I just needed to chill out. There are going to be people in the world that are just idiots, they have no idea what they’re on about, they throw the word [spastic] round like it’s funny, and it’s not.

“But then, I’ve got friends and family who support me 100 percent, so I just forget about it.”

Rebecca’s story

Rebecca, a youth ambassador for Ambitious about Autism, says she faced bullying from her first years at primary school.

“I remember people saying mean things to me, and I was always left out of friendship groups because I acted differently,” she says.

“I moved schools several times to try and get away from the hate I received, but it followed me everywhere I went. On the school bus I got hit, pushed and verbally abused so I ended up having to walk, and even then the bullies followed me.

“Other students called me weird, loner, freak, fat and ugly, which was one of the hardest things. People say words don’t hurt but they do, and they can have a long-lasting negative effect.”

What to do

The Anti-Bullying Alliance has put together a list of top tips for parents who find out their child is being bullied. Here are a few of them:

  • Don’t panic. Stay calm, try to listen, and reassure them that you are there to support them, and things will get better once action is taken.
  • Try to establish the facts. It can be helpful to keep a diary of events to share with your child’s school or college.
  • Stress that the bullying is not their fault, and that you will not take any action without discussing it with them first.
  • Don’t encourage retaliation to bullying, such as violence. It’s important to avoid hitting or punching an abusive peer.
  • Discuss the situation with your child’s teacher or Head teacher – or the lead adult wherever the bullying is taking place. Every child has a right to a safe environment in which to learn and play. Schools should have a behaviour policy which sets out the measures that will be taken to prevent all forms of bullying between pupils.

And what if you’re a young person experiencing bullying? Rebecca says: “The most important advice I’d give to other young people with autism who are being bullied is to not let people bring you down.

“Don’t let them hurt you. Speak up and ensure your teachers and parents actually deal with it. It can be hard to confide in someone, but when you do it can release a lot of weight that may be on your shoulders. Bullies are just jealous of how awesome we are!”

Scope’s Trendsetters group, where young disabled people come together to discuss issues that are important to them, have created some information and resources on how to deal with bullying.                      

You can also support the anti-bullying campaign on social media by using #StopBullying4all.

 

This is my story. I was bullied because I’m disabled.

Trendsetters is a project run by Scope for young disabled people.

Anti-Bullying Week calls on children and young people to take the lead in creating a future without bullying – using new technology to promote positive communication rather than being held back by cyber bullying.

Bullying is something that many of Scope’s Trendsetters, a group of disabled young people, say they’ve experienced.

We ran a workshop with the group about bullying this summer.

Young disabled people at bullying workshop

Bullying causes bad feelings. We threw these into a bin.

Rubbish bin representing bad feelings

One Trendsetter wanted to use technology to share her experience of being bullied. She wanted to send out a positive message about stopping bullying by creating this short film on bullying.

Her message is: “If you are being bullied, or know someone who is, tell someone.”

Do you need someone to talk to?

ChildLine – 0800 11 11

ChildLine is a free, confidential support service. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.

BeatBullying online help

Get help and support from the BeatBullying online mentors and counsellors, whenever and wherever you need it. Visit the BeatBullying website.

Are you a parent, carer or teacher looking for advice?

Kidscape Anti-bullying helpline – 0845 205 204

Helpline for parents or carers. Advisers are available Monday to Thursday from 10am to 4pm. Call the helpline on 0845 205 204 or Visit the Kidscape website.

BullyingUK and Contact a Family

Get advice if your disabled child is bullied. Visit the BullyingUK website.

Anti-Bullying Alliance

Get Anti-Bullying week teaching materials from the Anti-Bullying Alliance and resources from BeatBullying.

Share your tips

Share your tips on how to beat bullying in the comments. Here are some positive thoughts from the Trendsetters to get you started:

“Be a strong person within yourself, believe in yourself and always [have] confidence in expressing your emotions.”

“Bullying can [happen] anywhere so don’t let anyone take advantage of you. You have the right to say no to anything, and you have the right to be yourself.”

“Don’t let people judge you just because you’re being you, and you shouldn’t stop being yourself just because someone doesn’t like you.”