Children with special educational needs are twice as likely as their peers to endure persistent bullying, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at London University’s Institute of Education examined youngsters aged between seven and 15 and found that: * 12% of seven-year-olds with special needs felt bullied all the time, compared with 6% of non-disabled peers. * 10% of seven-year-olds with a longstanding limiting illness or chronic condition, such as type 1 diabetes or mental health issues, reported consistent bullying, compared to 7 per cent of non-disabled pupils. * Adolescents were more likely to be socially excluded by their peers, but no more likely to experience physical bullying.
Even when other factors were taken into account, such as socio-economic background, age within the school year and cognitive ability, disabled children were still at a higher risk of being victimised. This took the form of name calling, physical violence, theft and social exclusion.
The study, the largest of its kind to be carried out in England, analysed data on bullying gathered by two cohort studies – the Millennium Cohort Study, which tracked more than 19,000 children and adolescents born in the early 1990s and 2000s, and Next Steps, which examined 16,000 people born in England in 1989 and 1990.
Stella Chatzitheochari, one of the study’s authors, said: “We know that being bullied contributes to social inequalities later in life – people who were victims in childhood often grow up to have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, and perform less well in the labour market than their peers. These findings suggest that bullying reinforces the inequalities experienced by disabled people, putting them at a double disadvantage.”