Congress May Consider Special Needs Bullying ‘Epidemic’
A California congresswoman says she plans to introduce legislation designed to address the disproportionately high rate of bullying that students with disabilities face.
Citing statistics showing that children with special needs are bullied at twice the rate of other kids, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said on the floor of the House of Representatives this week that she plans to introduce legislation to tackle what she dubbed an “epidemic.”
Specifically, Speier said her bill would require schools that receive federal funds to report the number of bullying incidents on their campuses and denote how many of the cases involve students with disabilities. Moreover, she said the legislation would mandate that federally funded anti-bullying programs include content talking specifically about the bullying of people with special needs.
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“Bullying and harassment fosters a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of its victim and create conditions that negatively affect their learning. For special needs children who already face tremendous challenges, adding this extra burden is simply unacceptable,” Speier said. “It’s time for Congress to stand up and to speak up for these children and their families.”
Bullying has garnered significant attention recently after a spate of high profile cases of kids and young adults taking their own lives in the wake of taunting from their peers.
Just last week, President Barack Obama hosted a White House bullying summit to highlight the problem. He talked about his experience being picked on as a child and said that bullying is “not something we have to accept.”
Speier’s bill is expected to be introduced in late March.