Disabled children and bullying
Disabled children and children with additional needs are significantly more likely to experience bullying behaviour. It may include:
- disablist comments
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- social exclusion
Disablist bullying can happen face to face and/or online. Children can experience bullying from other children and from adults.
While schools must take action to prevent all forms of bullying behaviour, children with protected characteristics (which includes disability) have additional protections under the Equality Act 2010.
What to do if your child experiences bullying
The school has a legal duty to prevent all forms of bullying, and under the Equality Act 2010 must prevent all forms of harassment targeting disability. For more information, see ‘Help with Bullying in School’. In some instances, the bullying behaviour may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.
The majority of social media platforms have an acceptable use policy, and you can report incidents. If the perpetrators are from your child’s school, the school should take action to address their behaviour. In some instances, the bullying behaviour, whether face to face and/or online, may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.
In the community
The local authority has a duty to keep your child safe from harm. If you are worried about the safety of your child, contact your local children’s services team.
Additional information and support
Equality Advisory and Support Service- a helpline on issues relating to equality and human rights
(IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice - free and independent legally-based advice and support
SOS!SEN | The Independent Helpline for Special Education Needs - support for families to help them to secure the right special educational provision for children and young people with SEND
Contact - a charity for families with disabled children
Talking about disability with children
We have a huge role to play in educating and challenging our children to be inclusive of others and to embrace difference.
Ideally, read inclusive children’s books that show characters with a disability, not just those that focus solely on the character with the disability.
Children's books that include characters with disabilities - a list of books sorted by disability
All Are Welcome - follow a group of children through a school where everyone is welcome
Susan Laughs - Susan laughs just like everybody else. She's also in a wheelchair
What Happened To You? - every time Joe goes out the questions are the same: what happened to his leg? But is this even a question Joe has to answer?
ZAP workshops for children impacted by bullying (available online and in the community)
ZAP workshops bring together children facing a similar situation and teach a range of tools to increase assertiveness, build confidence and help manage bullying situations.