Differences in Bullying Victimization Between Students With and Without Disabilities
Prevalence rates for bullying victimization among children with disabilities have varied greatly in the research literature. Two reasons for such variability–rates vary as a function of disability type, and rates vary based on the bullying measure and criteria used to classify students as bullying victims–were selected as the focus of a study by UD researchers, George G. Bear, Lindsey S. Mantz, Joseph J. Glutting, and Chunyan Yang, School of Education, and Deborah E. Boyer, Center for Disabilities Studies.
The study, conducted in Delaware schools, examined bullying victimization among children with disabilities and compared the rates with those of children without disabilities.
Differences in measuring bullying victimization and especially in the cutoff criteria used by researchers to define bullying victimization have major implications for the magnitude of prevalence rates. To demonstrate this point, the team used multiple criteria to determine the odds of children with disabilities being bullied compared with children without disabilities. In assessing bullying victimization, they surveyed parents of children with and without disabilities, including parents of children with 10 different types of disabilities. The study was part of a larger study of school climate and bullying as perceived by students, teachers, and parents.
The Delaware Department of Education sent an invitation letter to all public schools. The study sample consisted of 1,027 parents or guardians of children with disabilities and 11,500 parents or guardians of children without disabilities. They were asked to report the frequency with which their children experienced bullying in general and 12 specific behaviors commonly associated with verbal, physical, and social–relational bullying.
The researchers found that children with disabilities are generally at greater risk of bullying victimization than children without disabilities. However, prevalence rates vary greatly as a function of disability type and the measure used to identify victimization (i.e., global item vs. multiple items).
Children with emotional disturbance were at greatest risk of being bullied, and children with other health impairments (e.g., ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder were also at much higher risk than children without disabilities. However children with speech or language impairment were at no greater risk.
With respect to identifying children who are victims of bullying, the researchers recommend that bullying victims be considered those who experience bullying-related behaviors frequently and repetitively as opposed to only sometimes.
As shown in their data, identifying students as victims of bullying based on experiencing one or more bullying behaviors “sometimes” or more, led to substantially higher prevalence rates than when based on parents perceiving their children as being “bullied” more than “sometimes.” Indeed, about half of parents of students with and without reported that their child experienced one or more bullying behaviors at least sometimes, but about half of those consider their child as being “bullied.”
Results were published in School psychology review (Impact Factor: 1.85). 03/2015; 44(1):98-116. DOI: 10.17105/SPR44-1.98-116 Differences in Bullying Victimization Between Students With and Without Disabilities – ResearchGate.
UD Research Team