Kids With Special Needs Get (Gasp!) Bullied

Filed under: In The News, Special Needs, Bullying

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Brace yourselves for a shocker. Kids with special needs -- who struggle with medical, emotional or emotional issues -- tend to have more problems in school and are bullied more often than other kids.

Researchers at the Poindexter Institute for the Painfully Obvious reached this conclusion after examining their middle school yearbooks and remembering how they spent all of seventh grade trapped inside their lockers while asking if someone would please pass them their inhalers.

Their conclusions were backed up by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

According to U.S. News & World Report, researchers there tracked more than 1,450 kids in fourth through sixth grades from 34 rural schools. A third of the kids had problems such as asthma, chronic pain, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities or emotional and behavioral problems.

These children were a more likely to be (wait for it, wait for it) bullied or feel socially isolated. These conclusions were further confirmed by everyone who has ever attended public school.

"Health affects school performance," lead researcher Christopher Forrest tells U.S. News. "Special health care needs have manifold effects on school outcomes that increase the likelihood that these kids are not going to successfully transition to adulthood."

Researchers obtained data from kids and their parents from a questionnaire. Children were classified as having a special health care need if they had a condition lasting at least 12 months and needed prescription drugs, therapy, counseling or other services.

School records on attendance, grades and standardized tests also were analyzed.

Kids with special health care needs "have significant differences in their engagement in school and their school relationships as well as academic achievement," Forrest adds. "It sets up a trajectory for these kids that's highly distressing."

Communities can help if they look at the whole child, he says.

"I also believe it's the kind of challenge we're starting to understand in the 21st century," Forrest says. "We have to look at the child as a whole person ... and recognize that individuals need health systems and education systems to work together."

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