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Disablist bullying is wrecking children's lives says Mencap
Monday 18 June 2007
Eight out of ten (82%) children with a learning disability are bullied and (79%) are scared to go out because they are frightened they might be bullied, a survey by leading learning disability charity, Mencap, reveals today (18 June 2007).
Mencap believes disablist bullying
wrecks children's lives, leading to social exclusion in childhood and adulthood. Mencap is launching its Don't stick it, stop it! campaign today, at the start of Learning Disability Week
(17-24 June). The charity is calling for children and adults to take action to stop disablist bullying.
Mencap wants 5,000 children, young people and adults to visit the website www.dontstickit.org.uk site where they can make an online ‘sticker' to show their support for children with a learning disability who are being bullied. The ‘stickers' will then be used to show the government that action needs to be taken to stop children and young people with a learning disability being bullied.
Over 500 children and young people with a learning disability across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in Mencap's bullying survey. It is the most extensive survey to date about the experiences of bullying of children with a learning disability.
Children and young people with a learning disability can be bullied everywhere they go, including at school, in the park, on the bus, in the street and at out-of-school clubs. They are more likely to be bullied by other children because they are seen as ‘different' and as ‘easy targets' by bullies. Bullying has a long-term impact, making it harder for children and young people to develop skills and gain confidence - both of which are already hard for children with a learning disability.
Key survey findings:
- Eight out of ten (82%) children with a learning disability are bullied
- Eight out of ten (79%) are scared to go out because they are frightened they might be bullied
- Six out of ten (58%) children with a learning disability had been physically hurt by bullies
- Five out of ten (53%) children who had experienced bullying said that they stayed away from the places where they have been bullied in the past
- Six out of ten (56%) children said they cried because they were bullied, and three out of ten (33%) said they hid away in their room.
- Four out of ten (36%) children surveyed said that the bullying didn't stop when they told someone
- Three out of ten (27%) children surveyed were bullied for three years or more.
Dame Jo Williams, Mencap's chief executive, said: "These shocking findings show how big a problem bullying is for children with a learning disability. Bullying wrecks lives, making children scared to go out. This means that children with a learning disability are missing out on opportunities to learn and make friends, socialise and play. If action is not taken to tackle bullying, children with a learning disability will face bullying and isolation all their lives."
Sir Al Aynsley-Green, Children's Commissioner for England, said: "I am very concerned by the findings of this report. All forms of bullying can have a serious and detrimental impact on children's lives. The bullying of children with a learning disability is of particular concern to me as they more likely to be bullied than most other groups of children, meaning that they are unable to enjoy a fun and active school, and social life. We must take steps to tackle bullying now and provide children with the appropriate skills, tools and support to give them the confidence to tackle bullying."
Charlotte Morse's son, Ben, has Down's syndrome. Ben, now 19, has been bullied for most of his life because he has a learning disability. The bullying got so bad the family had to move to a different area of the town.
Charlotte said: "Ben was desperate to make friends with the local children. But he often returned home with spit on him or the tyres of his bike deflated. On some days he was chased by a group of children until he got home. How can children with a learning disability grow up to be independent if they are scared to leave their home?"
Mencap wants the government to take disablist bullying as seriously as other forms of prejudice-based bullying, like racist bullying. The charity wants the government to produce guidance for schools, children's services and youth organisations on how to tackle disablist bullying.
Children worried about bullying can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit the Mencap website http://www.dontstickit.org.uk/ for more advice and information on bullying.
For more information about Learning Disability Week, visit www.mencap.org.uk/ldw
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For more information please contact Lucy Pile, Mencap press office, firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7696 6017