Disabled children and bullying

Disabled children and children with additional needs are significantly more likely to experience bullying behaviour. It may include disablist comments and name-calling but is just as likely to present as other forms of bullying behaviour such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, manipulation, coercion, or social exclusion.  Disablist bullying can happen face to face and/or online. Children can experience bullying from other children and/or from adults.

While schools must take action to prevent all forms of bullying behaviour, children with protected characteristics (which includes disability) have additional protections under the Equality Act 2010. 

What to do if your child experiences bullying 

In school

The school has a legal duty to prevent all forms of bullying, and under the Equality Act 2010 must prevent all forms of harassment targeting disability.  For more information see ‘Help with Bullying in School’.  In some instances, the bullying behaviour may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.  

Online

The majority of social media platforms have an acceptable use policy, and you can report incidents. If the perpetrators are from your child’s school, the school should take action to address their behaviour.  In some instances, the bullying behaviour, whether face to face and/or online, may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.   

In the community

The local authority has a duty to keep your child safe from harm. If you are worried about the safety of your child, contact your local children’s services team.  

Additional information and support

Organisations 

Equality Advisory and Support Service (equalityadvisoryservice.com) 

(IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice 
SOS!SEN | The Independent Helpline for Special Education Needs (sossen.org.uk) 

Contact - for families with disabled children | Contact 

Resources 

Read inclusive children’s books that show characters with a disability, ideally not just those that focus solely on the character with the disability. 

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/booklists/b/bookmark-disability-childrens-books-of-the-year/ 

Stories with disabled children | Disability charity Scope UK 

Children's Books That Include Characters with Disabilities | Learning Lab (nicoleslearninglab.blogspot.com) 

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/all-are-welcome/ 

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/susan-laughs/ 

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/what-happened-to-you/ 

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