New research suggests that students with behavior problems, as well as children with disabilities, are more likely to bully other kids at school and are also more likely to get bullied when compared to general education students.
The researchers followed more than 800 students, including 686 students who were not getting special education support, in nine schools. All students were between the ages of nine and 16. In the study, more than 30 percent students with disabilities said that they had bullied other kids while about 60 percent said that they had not bullied others.
Kids who received special-education services were also more likely to be bullied at school with more than 60 percent reporting that they were bullied. These numbers were higher than their general education counterparts.
"These results paint a fairly bleak picture for students with disabilities in terms of bullying, victimization and disciplinary actions. Sadly, these are the students who most need to display prosocial behavior and receive support from their peers," said Susan Swearer, professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Swearer is the lead author of the study.
The researchers found that kids who had observable disabilities were more likely to be bullied and bully others. Students who had disabilities that aren't visible (like a learning disability) had the same rates of being bullied as other kids.
"The observable nature of the disability makes it easy to identify those students as individuals with disabilities, which may place them at greater risk for being the easy target of bullying. Also, being frustrated with the experience of victimization, those students might engage in bullying behavior as a form of revenge," Swearer and her co-authors wrote, according to a news release.
According to Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of students had been bullied on school property in the year 2011.
Researchers suggest that children with observable disabilities must be helped to get involved in the general-education system.
"Programming should be consistently implemented across general and special education, should occur in each grade and should be part of an inclusive curriculum. A culture of respect, tolerance and acceptance is our only hope for reducing bullying among all school-aged youth," the authors wrote.