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Supporting children's development
Supporting children's development

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2 Victimisation and bullying

All children can come across issues that affect their social and emotional development, or academic development, at some point in their school career. This can be for all sorts of reasons. For example, very young children may find it hard to separate from their parent(s) and settle into school life, or a child’s personality may impact on how easy (or not) they find it to make friends.

Children who are on the autistic spectrum may find it difficult to respond to social and verbal cues, and they may not understand what is appropriate in terms of social behaviour. Both these issues can influence how other children respond to a child with SEND, and vice versa.

In this topic we focus on bullying and victimisation as an issue that is often of particular relevance for children with SEND. Although children with SEND vary enormously, there are some common themes that may affect how well the child copes in school, and how likely it is they will become a victim of bullying.

Activity 4

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

List three challenges children with SEND might face in school and how these may impact on the child and affect their development, leading to bullying or victimisation. We have given one challenge to start you off.

Use the free response box to list the three challenges you identify and how each challenge might impact on the child and affect their development, leading to bullying or victimisation.

Table 1 Challenges children with SEND might face in school
Challenge or issueHow it might impact on the child and affect development, leading to bullying or victimisation
Does not display age-appropriate behaviour

Relationships. Other children may find it difficult to relate to the child with SEND.

Child may have to be removed from the situation if their behaviour is disruptive.

Child may be seen as immature by the other children and teased or ridiculed as a result.

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Evidence shows that children and young people with SEND are significantly more likely to be bullied or victimised than those who don’t have SEND (Anti-bullying Alliance, 2015a). Many children with SEND have difficulties communicating effectively with other children in their class; this in turn can impact on the formation of peer friendships, or working in small groups on a task. In addition, communication difficulties may mean the child struggles to understand what is being asked of them, or what the task is about, and this can frustrate other children and make them more likely to be negative towards the child with SEND.

For more information on issues that may result in bullying or victimisation have a look at the document Preventing bullying [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] by the Anti-bullying Alliance, which can also be found in the further reading list at the end of this topic.