Children and young people with learning disabilities were more likely to face bullying than their peers, according to the charity Mencap in a 2007 survey. The statistics were appalling Has anything changed for the better?
In the report published in 2007, the charity found that 82% of children with learning disabilities are bullied and 79% are scared to go out because they are frightened they might be bullied.
These figures had risen since the previous year, when 69% of children surveyed by Bullying Online said they had been bullied.
Mencap’s survey of more than 500 children with learning disabilities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland found that 58% had been physically hurt by bullies, while 27% said they had been bullied for three years or more. Some 36% of the children surveyed said the bullying did not stop when they told someone.
More than half of the children surveyed who had been bullied (53%) said they stayed away from places where they had been taunted in the past and 56% said they cried as a result of bullying, with 33% hiding in their rooms.
Mencap says bullying linked to disability wrecks children’s lives and leads to social exclusion in childhood and adulthood. Its campaign, Don’t stick it, stop it!, launches today, and the charity wants to push the government to take disablist bullying as seriously as all other forms of prejudice-based attacks.
The charity wants to see the government produce guidance for schools, children’s service and youth organisations on how to tackle disablist bullying.
Dame Jo Williams, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “These shocking findings show how big a problem bullying is for children with a learning disability.”
Bullying takes place everywhere, inside and outside of the classroom, Dame Williams said. “Children said they were bullied everywhere they went, on the bus, at youth centres, in parks and on the street. It happens outside the playground but also inside the school gates. Many children are too afraid to go out for fear they will be bullied.”
Children with learning disabilities are missing out on opportunities to learn and make friends, socialise and play, she said. “If action is not taken to tackle bullying, children with a learning disability will face bullying and isolation all their lives.”
Al Aynsley-Green, children’s commissioner for England, said: “I am very concerned by the findings of this report. All forms of bullying can have a serious and detrimental impact on children’s lives.
“The bullying of children with a learning disability is of particular concern to me as they more likely to be bullied than most other groups of children, meaning that they are unable to enjoy a fun and active school, and social life. We must take steps to tackle bullying now and provide children with the appropriate skills, tools and support to give them the confidence to tackle bullying.”
What has been done ‘to tackle bullying now and provide children with the appropriate skills, tools and support to give them the confidence to tackle bullying’.
Does the emphasis on provision for wheelchair users – who are less than 8 per cent of disabled people. – discriminate against others with a disability. (The majority of impairments are not visible) Click here for more numerical information about people with disabilities in the UK.
What are your views? Have you experience or known about abuse of the system? What would improve provision for all disabled people and minimise abuse?
For example, were there too many spaces allocated for disabled people allocated for the football world cup, so that those paces could never have been filled and police understand that some fans who bought tickets on the black market may have taken wheelchairs in order to get around normal security to enter the stadium. Do you think that these tickets were spare – or were people who really needed them being deprived of the opportunity to attend?
Amid the mad scramble for tickets, some are believed to have acquired concession passes intended for disabled fans. Police will now investigate whether the fans with wheelchairs in the disabled section did indeed require the assistance and have legitimate passes for the area.. Given that the requirement for a wheelchair does not always mean that an individual depends on its assistance all the time, it is a sensitive issue and one which officials are having to probe fully.
In the UK there is a legally government laid down ratio of normal car parking spaces to the minimum required number of disabled spaces provided. The minimum number is 2 marked disabled parking bays or 6% of the total number of bay must be reserved for marked out for disabled parking. Up to 34 bay the requirement is 2 disabled, above 34 bays 6% of the total number of bays must be marked disabled. Is this too many, about right or too few? Should elderly or infirm people, who are unlikely to be classified as disabled be able to use those spaces?
The Daily Mail says ‘Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in shopping centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed.Supermarkets, shopping centres and leisure centres must allocate up to 6 per cent of their parking bays for disabled badge holders – even though just 1.4 per cent of the population is registered disabled’
Does this mean that non-disabled drivers are more likely to use the spaces as they always seem to be empty?
And what about provision in your country? Are parking spaces or other spaces allocated soley for disabled people? If so, how do people qualify to use them? What provision is made in places of entertainment, public buildings or public transport? How is provision protected for disabled people?
Women with some disabilities sometimes risk their health or even their life to have a baby. What issues does the story below raise for you about disability, sexuality, risk and parenthood? Will this child be disadvantaged or lucky to have such a determined mother?
Dankinja Melek was born with no legs and one arm. Though the doctors told her that pregnancy could be dangerous for her, Melek will soon give birth to a child.
The doctors have told me that they are worried about me but I was not nervous, and I believe that it will be all right. I’m eight months pregnant and everything is fine – says Melek who is about to give birth to a boy. The boy currently weighs three pounds, and Melek and her husband have decided to name him Semih Akin.
Melek says she got pregnant naturally. She added that at first she could not believe she was pregnant, and she made five or six tests to be sure. She admitted that the last two months have been very difficult. During pregnancy I obviously gained a few pounds and therefore generally lie down – Melek said. She is helped a lot to her husband Mehmet who is originally from Turkey. They met a few years ago. At first they were friends, and then they fell in love. They were married six years ago.
Originally prepared by: Bojana Minic
Translated and edited by: Matthew Griffiths
Divya Babba, a 19 year old wheelchair user with spinal muscular atrophy, reveals the offensive, ridiculous and frankly absurd things people say to wheelchair users.
Have you experienced these, or similar,comments or questions? If you have, or even if you haven’t, can you suggest suitable responses?
I was having dinner and, when it was my turn to order, the waiter pointed at me and asked my friend, “And what will she have?”
This wasn’t the first time that someone had underestimated my ability to think and speak. When you’re in a wheelchair, people often think your disability affects your brain and not just your body. The unfamiliarity of being around a disabled person can cause people to come out with the most absurd things. Do they see the unexpected and panic? Are they just ignorant? Maybe a bit of both. Either way, here’s my top pick of the most ridiculous FAQs and opening gambits:
1. “So, what’s wrong with you?” – Many people are under the impression that this is the conversational equivalent of “How are you?” It’s not.
2. “Can you have sex?” – Last time I checked, I still had all my lady parts.
3. “Do you sleep in your chair?” – Just because I can’t walk, it doesn’t mean that I can’t sleep in a bed.
4. “If I were in your shoes, I would never be able to leave the house.”– You’d feel differently if you were. Everybody learns to cope with his/her disadvantages.
5. “You’re so pretty, even though you’re in a wheelchair.” – Thanks!
6. “You should really try to walk instead of relying on your wheelchair. It might help.” – I would if I could, don’t ya think?
7. “Why do you wear shoes if you don’t need them?” – First of all, shoes are fashionable. Second, they keep your feet warm. Third, do you take your shoes off every time you sit down?
8. “Do you have a licence for that thing?” – This question is usually accompanied by a chuckle… it’s not funny.
9. “Do you ever wish that your siblings were disabled instead of you?” – I was asked this question at a university interview and was too stunned to retort, “Do you ever wish your siblings were socially inept instead of you?”
10. “You’re actually really smart. Wow!”
11. “You’re so lucky you use a wheelchair and can sit down all day!” – Oh boy, I know, livin’ the dream.
12. “Can I please pray for you?”– No thanks, I’m fine. Pray for people who are starving or dying in war.
13. “Be careful not to run me over!” – Believe me, if I run you over, it won’t be a mistake.
Click here to see other articles by Divya