Dyslexia and Bullying
Bullying by children has been outlawed in our schools. There are all sorts of programs to make certain that students recognize the damage such unkind behavior can cause. Dyslexia and Bullying can be an issue sometimes.
But students with dyslexia and bullying unfortunately go together in ways altogether different than the usual student to student bullying. Student with dyslexia may experience bullying in the classroom by their teachers who simply don’t know any better.
My own son with dyslexia was bullied only once by a friend. It took place in the neighborhood, when the other boy made fun of him for his difficulties in reading and spelling. It cut my son to the core—because it was so unexpected and hit him in his most vulnerable emotional place.
But far more frequently, the bullying he has experienced has come from a different place—in the classroom by thoughtless and poorly informed teachers. This is something I call institutional bullying, since it’s encountered only at school, at the hands of teachers, who are the representatives of the institution we know as school. They include
*The teacher who humiliated him by repeatedly keeping him in from recess and forcing him to rewrite spelling words again and again.
*The teacher who refused to provide accommodations on a written exam and gave him a grade of F-.
*The same teacher who couldn’t understand that allowing peers to grade papers is fraught with embarrassment.
*The repeated requests for him to read aloud—even though his IEP explicitly state that he should not be required to do so.
Is this really bullying? It sure seems like it to me, when a person in a position of power, like a teacher “uses superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants.”
When it comes to bullying, it’s time to reconsider exactly what it is—and make a concerted effort for school teachers and administrators to receive the training they need to stop the kind of bullying behavior that humiliates and embarrasses students with dyslexia.