Could you ever imagine your child bullying someone? Did you ever bully anyone? Were you or your child bullied?
People with disabilities are significantly more likely to be bullied. Bullies usually choose to pick on someone who is weaker or different. A person with a disability, unfortunately, is an easy target because their differences are easily seen.
My bullying incidents happened at school. It was a complicated time. Back then, the topic of bullying wasn’t as prevalent as it is today. Bullying was seen as an accepted part of growing up and going to school. That doesn’t make it right, but it was how people lived then. I know of friends who were bullied much worse than I was, and I hope they have healed from the emotional trauma that they likely experienced.
My first experience happened in seventh-grade science class. I happened to be one of the only students included in mainstream classes. Mainstreaming began for me in fifth grade. Although the other students weren’t overly friendly, I cannot say they bullied me. However, in the seventh grade, all of that changed.
I often had to sit in the first or last rows in classes. Because I use a motorized wheelchair, the teacher would put me in the most convenient place. In science, I sat in the front row. A male student used to throw paper at my head and my wheelchair throughout the class period. I hated it, but I was too shy to speak up about it to school professionals. One night, as my dad helped me with my homework, I decided to tell him what was happening in science class.
He was angry and discussed it with my teacher. Although I wasn’t happy that my dad had gotten involved, I felt relieved that help finally came. I never received an apology, but the student never bullied me again.
During my high school days, there was more bullying. This time, I had enough confidence to fix the problem on my own. My high school had a ramp that led down to the second level. Boys would stand by the ramp and say mean things to me every day as I made my way down. The ramp was in a spiral shape and hidden from most people’s view. One morning, as I drove my wheelchair to class, a student followed me. He began pulling on the handlebars of my chair, trying to tip it backward. Luckily, he failed. But it scared the heck out of me.
Because I felt scared and unsafe, I decided to go directly to the school office. I told them who had tried to pull my wheelchair backward and how. The situation was handled quickly, and once again, I felt relatively safe. However, I admit that I never felt completely safe because those memories remained.
If you’re being bullied, know that help is available. You don’t need to live in fear and discomfort. Speak up and get help so that it stops. Bullies get their strength by putting others down and hurting them. Outing bullies is the only way to stop them. They think that they can continue to get away with their behavior because no one outs them. So, don’t live in fear; let them know that they can’t get away with it.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.