Speech Disorders and Bullying are often linked.
We are treating a child for stuttering. Let’s call him Johnny for the purposes of this post. Johnny is making slow and steady improvements. His parents are very happy with the progress, but the progress cannot come fast enough for this 8-year-old boy who is being bullied at school. Johnny’s parents are understandably upset. They are getting involved against the wishes of their son, who’s afraid that their involvement will just escalate the problem.
This situation is not unique. Unfortunately, speech disorders and bullying are often linked. In fact, in a recent study that compared 54 students who stuttered to 54 children who did not stutter, Professor Gordon Blood, PhD CCC-SLP for Penn State, showed that 44% of stutterers were victimized while 9% of non-stutterers reported bullying. Children with speech disorders are 5 times more likely to be a victim of bullying. That is a significant problem.
Luckily bullying has made the national headlines and many people (parents, teachers and celebrities) and organizations (schools and corporations) are taking a strong stance against it.
Here are some resources to help you deal with bullying.
- Kids Health has a nice series called “Helping Kids Deal with Bullies”.
- GreatSchools.org has compiled a nice list of Victim and Bully: Signs and Symptoms to help you identify the warning signs.
- The National Crime Prevention Council has put together advice about how to deal with bullying called What Parents Can Do.
- The government, of course, has a program to combat bullying. Go to www.stopbullying.gov for their point of view.
- Stompoutbullying.org is another website supported by many corporate partners that is loaded with lots of information and advice.
- P&G the makers of Secret deodorant launched a very successful and long running campaign to educate and eliminate bullying among girls called MeanStinks meanstinks.com
- ASHA has a post called Bullies Likelier to Target Students with Speech-Language Disorders that gives advice on how to work with the school SLP to deal with the problem.
The Kidmunication Point
It’s so important to take bullying seriously. If your child is being bullied teach them how to cope with it by following the advice found in the links above and get involved to stop it if necessary. Children with speech and language disorders already have an uphill climb with their self-esteem, they do not need to have a bully make life harder.