Roughly half of adolescents with autism, intellectual disability, speech impairments and learning disabilities are bullied at school, new research suggests.
That’s significantly higher than the rate of bullying faced by typically developing students, about 1 in 10 of whom are victimized by their peers.
The findings reported Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine are based on data from a nationwide survey of more than 900 parents of teens receiving special education services.
Researchers found that about 57 percent of students with intellectual disability were bullied, while slightly less than half of students with autism, learning disabilities and speech/language impairments were victimized.
Parents also reported that some students with disabilities were responsible for perpetrating bullying, but this occurred at rates more similar to those experienced by typically developing students, the study indicated.
The likelihood that a teen would be bullied was greatest for those with the worst social skills, researchers said. What’s more, students with disabilities who spent more time in mainstream classrooms tended to face a higher risk of bullying. Accordingly, the researchers said that schools need to do more to promote an accepting environment.
“Tailored antibullying programs are needed to address the unique needs of these vulnerable adolescents given their social, communication and academic impairments,” wrote Paul Sterzing of the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues in the study.