Friday, September 27, 2013

Bullying of Children with Disabilities The Series - PostScript - Part I

Bugs Bunny as seen in The Looney Tunes Show.
Bugs Bunny as seen in The Looney Tunes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At a conference at Seattle University academy, I was lucky enough to present a half-day session on Bullying and IDEA.  The participants were very engaged in the presentation.

We began with the definition of bullying, and we found that the definition of bullying is much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's infamous response when he was asked to define obscenity and he replied that he was not sure if he could define it, but he knows it when he sees it. 

We decided that one element is an intention to harm or harass.  There is no negligent bullying, and the bully must have some foul motive.

Another core element is repetition.  A single act of violence, no matter how bad, is not bullying.  It has to be repeated.

The final element is an imbalance of power, or at least a perceived imbalance of power. Two combatants even if engaged in repeated battle, are not involved in bullying.

We toyed with some other components of a definition of bullying, but none of them got the traction of consensus that the three elements listed above received.  So what do you think of this definition of bullying?

We then had some fun applying the definition to an array of hypotheticals.  My favorite was the famous legal case of Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd.  We all agreed that Mr Fudd had a disability. At first, I had people convinced that Bugs was a bully, and I was afraid that my Saturday morning cartoon enjoyment would be forced to come to an end.  Upon reflection, however, Bugs was exonerated on the theory that Fudd's rifle eliminated any imbalance of power based upon Bugs' superior intellect.
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  1. I need to comment on this topic. Bullying is alive and well in Cody Wy. I am a parent of a 16 year old young man who has ds-asd and apraxia. I as a parent of a disabled student have been bullied for years. By school staff at Park 6. One documented incident I assume you could see if your were interested just so you know it's not my imagination by a long shot. During the due process hearing I guess it was jan 2012. I was bullied for days by the special education director and the special education teacher for days before the hearing officer finally had enough and completely blew his top. He YELLED at them and was obviously completely disgusted by the laughing, pointing , jeering and whispering the director who has bullied me for years was doing with the special education teacher who bullied me and my son . It is a game to bullies . They don't get any money of any benefit other than sick pleasure from another persons pain and to exercise their absolute over that persons desperate need to just live comfortably. Wrights Law writes the book "Emotions to Advocacy " for a reason. Because parents are often intimidated and bullied by staff who inform them ,for instance as I was often told, "the only requirement is to consider your opinion and that of your sons or his doctors . the evaluation recommendations are just that. etc. Bullies have absolute power over your feelings and they love it.

    1. I would love it if anyone from park6 wanted to challenge my statements of being bullied because I have so much documentation by park 6 themselves . It is way beyond what would be necessary to prove it is a fact.

  2. I should add here that our son came home two weeks ago with four deep scratches across his back. I told the new director of special services (I think I may have prayed the other one away) the scratches were there. She said take a picture and find out what happened. His provider and I gave him a few days as he isn't a good communicator and didn't want him to just say yes to get us off his back. Two days later he gave us boys name. I gave that to the director. I don't want the kid in jail or anything but I should think there would be some communication about the follow-up and what they are going to do to protect him. He has single word utterances typically and has also followed kids out the door in the winter and been locked out side in -10 degree weather without a coat before a passer by saw him. He said the other kids went into the gym. There are serious bullies in Cody Wy. Another disabled student killed himself last Oct 30, 2012 Kyle Wells. The administration basically denied what the grandmother said about asking the principal for help because the bullying was relentless and he begged for help.

  3. I do agree with you about the definitions of bullying. As I was reading this blog post I began to go over different scenarios to attempt to find any other definition that would fit as well as the three you suggested. All three components really do define bullying. There is intention to harm or harass, and that the bully does "get something from it." This can be a child who gets attention for bullying to an adult who feels a certain power over an individual. I also think the use of the word repetition is key in the definition. I also enjoyed what you said about imbalance of power, or "at least a perceived imbalance of power."

    Jane- I am so sorry you have been through such a rough time with the school your son is attending. It is a sad fact that things like this happen. I think when we think of bullies we tend to think of children at school, but it is so relevant to adults. I really hope that you and your son receive the kind of care that you deserve.