A Unique Bullying Prevention Model for Students with Disabilities
Download the 32-page step-by step-booklet that looks at how to address bullying of students with disabilities by engaging, educating, and empowering their peers with advocacy skills.
Activist Inspired by Son with Down syndrome, CNN.com Blog—Stop Bullying, Speak Up
By Julie Hertzog, Special to CNN
This 3-minute video, and accompanying teacher’s guide, provides awareness and education about Tourette’s Syndrome.
Grace Burckhard (13) and her mother, Paula, presented a new peer advocacy project, PAVE, in Minot, North Dakota, to over 800 Jim Hill Middle School students.
It is known that students with disabilities are bullied at a statistically higher rate than their peers without disabilities. The two factors that are highly indicative of becoming a target of bullying – social isolation and challenges in navigating social relationships – are often characteristics of many students with disabilities. Students with disabilities may have only a few or no friends. It is much easier for someone who bullies to pick on students who are alone or don’t have a friend looking out for them. Peer engagement can be an important factor in reducing bullying in the school climate. Research has shown that more than 50 percent of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes. Most students don’t like to see bullying, but they may not know what to do when it happens.
Peer advocacy – a program designed to educate students on speaking out on behalf of students with intellectual or developmental disabilities – is a unique approach that empowers students to protect those targeted by bullying and to provide social inclusion opportunities. Peer advocacy works for two reasons:
- Students are more likely than adults to see what is happening with their peers, and peer influence is powerful.
- A student telling someone to stop bullying often has much more impact than an adult giving the same advice.
In exploring a peer advocacy model in your school, consider who the adult leader should be, which students could benefit from peer intervention, and which students could be catalysts for change. The peer advocates should be educated on:
- the dynamics of bullying behavior
- the characteristics, traits, and circumstances of the students for whom they are advocating
- the options of how to intervene
Intervention strategies can be tailored for each situation. Some advocates will feel comfortable with direct interventions, such as telling the person bullying to stop. Others may want to approach indirectly, such as supporting the person after an incident or reporting it to the adult leader.
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Learn more about peer advocacy on PACERTeensAgainstBullying.org/#/act/peer-advocacy
For more information on how to create a peer advocacy group in your school, please contact Julie Hertzog at Julie.Hertzog@PACER.org .