BBC - Ouch! (disability) - Fact - Ouch Q&A #12: Bullying

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Ouch Q&A #12: Bullying

by Rob Crossan

6th August 2007

Q: Hey, you big bloody spaz - why the hell don't you just mong off somewhere else?
A: I'm fine, thanks for asking. Though your behaviour is giving me cause for concern. Over 82% of children with learning difficulties have complained of being bullied in school according to a new report released by the disability charity MENCAP as part of their Don't Stick It, Stop It! campaign against bullying.. Even more shockingly, the UK wide survey revealed that 58% of children say that they have been physically assaulted by bullies.

Close-up of a boy's school uniform
Q: Yeah, but I don't mean any harm. What if it's just a joke?

A: Well, it might seem like a joke to you, but you are doing more harm than you think, because the bullying you have started has a habit of carrying on into later life. According to a survey produced last year by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), disabled workers were twice as likely to report instances of bullying in the workplace than non-disabled colleagues- and that's not just people with learning disabilities, that includes everyone under the disability umbrella.
Children's Commissioner, Al Aynsley-Green
Q: But come on, it's only a bit of name-calling. Shouldn't these people just try and see the funny side of it?

A: As an adult, it must be pretty hard to look back and see the 'funny side' if, as a child, you were in a situation where you were being bullied.Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner for England, says that bullied children "are unable to enjoy a fun and active school and social life ... all forms of bullying can have a serious and detrimental impact upon [their] lives".

Q: Kids will be kids, though. Surely this sort of disability-related bullying doesn't continue into adulthood, does it?

A: Don't you believe it. In the workplace, such bullying can involve things like being forced to take disability-related leave as annual leave, not being supported by one's boss, and being forced to carry out tasks which are difficult due to the nature of a person's disability, but are not actually pivotal to their role.
A wheelchair user working in the office
Q: So what am I up against if I decide to embark on a bit of 'disablist' bullying in the future?

A: You'll be up against the newly formed Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning for starters. They are fighting for the rights of disabled people in all aspects of education - from school through to university and work-related courses, with the aim of ensuring that disabled people get the support they need to get the jobs they want without being discriminated against by people like you! So na na na naa-na!
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    • 1. At 07:56am on 30 Oct 2008, BenovolentJane. wrote:

      AH, Yes! Finally! those answers I can definitly relate to! i'm a disabled person and I started getting bulllied in grade 6 when i was about 10 years old. Seriously, its not easy, I cannot even begin to explain the effect it had on me. I guess, I became merely a shadow of my former self... thats the only way I can describe myself at the hands of bullying.

      I think that children are more aggressie than adults, In my experience they were anyway. I cannot forget those times when the girls in my class followed me and watched me 24/7 they would dare eachother to do things and most of those dares unfortunatly included doing something to me, things like drooling all oer me, calling me names, excluding me, pushing me to the ground and pinching me etc etc they made me feel like I was worthless, and I seriously thought eerything they said was true.

      I began to think about suicide for me i thought about it 24 hours a day, everyday. It never left my mind once, it was always there lurking in the back of my mind. I was always thinkng about methods to kill myself. Like I would imagine getting the knife off the kitchen bench and just doing it. It was as easy as that and I knew it, I even took a couple of My mom's sleeping pills and put them in my pillow case. I don't know why, I don't know how i managed not to do it... but I never did it... and now its six years later.

      I think the thing that saved me from descending into complete depression was my books and my piano. I played or read 24 hours a day. I kept my mind busy so that I couldn't think. If for one second I wasn't reading I would start thinking of death and the idea of suicide would begin to build once more... When I was reading, it was still there but atleast I couldn't try and build on the idea.

      Even as a 10 year old, I knew that it wasn't a good thing to think about... I was a very unhappy child though, there wasn't a single night when Iwouldn't be crying silently to myself under the bedcovers. There wasn't a single night when I didn't pray and plead to God to stop the bullying, or to atleast stop my suffering at the hands of bullying.

      how did I do it? I've no idea, my trust and self esteem hit the lowest it could ever be... It has taken me 7 years to finally get over it. I know the scars are still there and always will be for life, and I'm very hard person to gain trust in, but I have started to trust people a little more, and i haven't been bullied, but still... I've been able to mask my feelings as you put them. However like you, at school earlier this year there was a huge bullying scandal among students and a student ended up in hospital, the school teachers didn't take it lightly, but i just felt very illl and cold when I heard about it at an emergency assembly. It brought back a flood of memories from my own experiences.

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    • 2. At 2:29pm on 20 Dec 2008, smallmelb wrote:

      i was bullied at school when i was 12, buy a group of girls that i thought were my friends. It was not until my best friend told me that theses girls were calling me names behind my back that i realized what they were really like. I did not have a big group of friends after what happened, but the friends i did have were true and trusting friends, which i think is the most important thing. I have also suffered from bullying at work. i have had people make remarks about the fact that i can hear the phone in the office ect, but i just let it go most of the time because i have learnt over the years that they are not worth worrying about. I work with some of the most wonderful and supportive people i could ask for. There are some people who love you for who you are, warts and all!

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