Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Dyslexia: Bullying is a serious issue
Dyslexia manifests in different ways for every child. But there is one aspect that is bound to be universal: the bullying suffered by the dyslexic child at one point or another during their school years.
The difficulties with reading, writing, and spelling are bad enough, but add bullying on top of all that and the effects can be devastating for the child’s sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
You’ll still hear the occasional teacher insist that bullying isn’t an issue in her school. Ten to one, this means that the teacher is just not aware of what’s going on under her own nose within the classroom, and further afield, on the playground during recess.
Bullying is beginning to receive wider notice and has been found to bring on depression and even suicidal tendencies in some children, and there’s always an accompanying drop in the child’s academic performance.
The bullying doesn’t have to be physical to earn its title of dubious distinction. Verbal abuse is also a kind of bullying. In that sense, calling a child by a degrading nickname qualifies as bullying, as does ignoring a child or telling him he smells bad, for instance.
Bullying hurts both the victim and the one who bullies him. The bully may end up with a false sense of his own power over others in his environment. He may end up the bullying adult in the workplace and in his own home.
If your child has dyslexia and his spirits seem low, or he seems to be spending too much time on his own in the schoolyard, it becomes your duty as his parent to make inquiries and discover if he might have become the victim of bullying.
Children are often afraid to speak out against a fellow classmate. There’s an unspoken code of honour that feels unbreakable. Even if he thinks he has the right to “rat out” his tormentor, your child may also be afraid of retaliation.
A good way to discover the truth is to ask your child in the presence of a friend or two. Your child won’t talk, but his friends sure will. They have nothing to lose.
This may just allow the whole issue to be brought out into the light. Even before you deal with the school and the bully himself, your child will have experienced a huge sense of relief. Once you, as the parent, know what’s going on, the burden of your child’s secrecy is lifted, at least.
Now is the time for action. Never tell your child to “just ignore” the bully. This goes beyond the occasional spat between classmates. In the best case scenario your child has an experienced teacher who knows how to deal with this situation. The teacher must speak to the bully, his victim, and to both sets of parents.
Once the bully knows that all eyes are upon him, his behavior may well change for the better. At the very least, a firm stance by the school’s administration will tend to put a damper on the bullying behavior and drive it underground.
Even better, the school will suggest to the parents of the bully that their child undergo much-needed counseling, for the sake of all concerned.