B A C K – T O – S C H O O L S U R V E Y
Parents that were recently surveyed by AngelSense revealed the severity of the situation for children with special needs: 50% of parents reported that their special needs child has been bullied at least once on the way to school or at school, and almost 80% of parents of children with special needs, such as autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome, worry that their child will experience bullying at some point. This is according to a recent survey by AngelSense, a GPS based community platform looking to create a safer world for children with special needs.
In recent years, the subject of bullying has become a growing issue across the United States among all children, and most specifically among children with special needs. Guided by AngelSense’s mission to improve the safety of children with special needs, this survey was designed to estimate the severity of this issue, so that parents in collaboration with schools will be encouraged to implement new anti-bullying strategies this coming school year. The results of this study may be used to address the subject of special needs bullying in schools, and raise awareness among parents, teachers, school staff and even students.
“Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are in constant worry about their child’s safety. On the way to school, during school hours and on the way home, children with ASD are unfortunately targets for bullies, mostly because of their different social skills and because the bullies know they won’t be able to report them”, said Natasha Cornin, mother of a seven-year-old boy with low verbal autism spectrum disorder and an AngelSense customer support representative. “We want to create a community where parents can voice their concerns about the safety of their children, and where parents together with schools will make an effort to reduce this epidemic.”
The survey, designed in collaboration with Amir Tal, PhD, was conducted in August 2015 and generated 218 responses from parents of children with special needs, the majority of whom are parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) living in the USA. The survey offered a section for parents to submit suggestions on how school bullying may be prevented. Multiple parents suggested that more education be provided in schools about children with special needs. Other parents suggested enforcing stronger anti-bullying policies, with clear procedures outlined in their handbook. Some of the suggestions stated that parents of bullies should be held accountable for these incidents.
These figures strongly support the professional literature which indicates that bullying against children with special needs is a dire phenomenon that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders in the disability field. With the new school year just about to begin, the issue of children with special needs being bullied is a pressing one. Parents of children with special needs are always concerned about their child’s safety and well-being, and they entrust their schools and teachers to provide a secure environment for their children.•
AngelSense will continue to raise awareness about the issue of bullying, so that all parties can contribute to a genuine effort to reduce and prevent bullying. AngelSense is a GPS & voice monitoring solution designed exclusively for children with special needs, with the mission of creating a safer world for these special children while bringing peace of mind to their families. With AngelSense, parents have a full view of their child’s day and can easily monitor their level of safety. Some key features include a unique diary that captures the child’s route throughout the day, immediate SMS notifications sent to the parent for every unusual car stop and location change, a “Wandering Child” solution in case of a lost child or elopement, and wearable and accessories designed to adapt to sensory sensitivities of children with special needs. AngelSense has redefined support by employing parents as its support staff that know first-hand what it is like to have children with special needs. When a customer needs help with AngelSense, they receive support by another special needs parent (www.angelsense.com).
KEY CONCLUSIONS OF THE SURVEY
• Almost 80% of parents worry that their child might experience bullying on the way to school or during school hours.
• Almost half of all parents confirmed that their child has been bullied during school hours and only 17.7% of parents were able to categorically state their child had never been bullied during school hours.
• Of the parents that confirmed that their child was bullied, 94% said that there have been multiple incidents of bullying.
• Children with special needs experienced: Physical bullying (12%), Verbal bullying (50%) and a large percentage experienced both (38%).
• Of parents that confirmed that their child was bullied, 64% of them reported that their children experienced bullying on school grounds, 50% of them reported incidents in the classroom itself, and almost 50% reported incidents on the school bus and while waiting for the school bus.
• Of the parents that confirmed their child was bullied, 74.8% turned to a teacher for help, and in most cases, this helped stop the bullying.