With the upcoming National Anti-Bullying Week (17–21 November) setting a goal of raising awareness of hate crime, Brandon Trust has warned that the vast majority of bullying against disabled people goes unreported and actual instances of this type of hate crime are much higher.
Lucy Hurst-Brown, chief executive of Brandon Trust, said: "As if bullying against disabled people isn’t bad enough… one of the most alarming things we see is just how many of the people we support accept bullying as part of life.
"Even with shocking cases that hit the media, like the tragic story of Fiona Pilkington who took her own life and that of her disabled daughter [Francceca Hardwick] following years of abuse from local youths, the majority of cases go unreported.
"That’s why we’re issuing practical advice to help people identify and deal with bullying and to encourage them to report it. Together we will work to stamp out this appalling abuse and make our communities safer for everyone."
'Just a part of life'
Figures from the Home Office report ‘An Overview of Hate Crime in England and Wales’ showed that in 2012/13 the police recorded 1,841 disability hate crimes, a 5% increase on the previous year.
However, estimates published in the same report put the real figure for disability motivated hate crimes per year at more than 62,000. One of the reasons so much bullying or hate crime against disabled people is not reported is because it’s often not identified.
The report suggested that for many people with learning disabilities "it’s just part of life". Examples include name calling or bad gestures, physical attacks, threats, harassment, humiliation or intimidation.
Equally ‘mate crime’, where a person is befriended and then exploited, either physically, socially, financially or sexually, is also a serious issue for people with learning disabilities.
Brandon Trust has produced guidelines on staying safe, including:
1) Tell someone you trust if you are being bullied, this could be a support worker, a good friend, a family member, a youth worker, someone else that you work or live with or an organisation
2) If you are being bullied, keep a diary of events, log the date, time, who was involved and as much information as you can remember. Brandon Trust can provide Easy English logging diaries
3) Put useful numbers in your mobile – a local taxi firm, police non-emergency (101) and any local hate crime service or helplines
4) In an emergency always call 999
5) Avoid giving out personal information such as your address and never disclose passwords or pin numbers to anyone
6) Beware of friends who always ask to borrow money or possessions, and ask yourself if these are real friends
7) Find out where your local ‘safe places’ are for when you’re out and about. These are places such as libraries, shops, cafes and council buildings that have signed up to the national Safe Places scheme.