Melania Trump, Kids with Special Needs, and CyberBullying
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Katelyn Fry
One of the many challenges kids face today is one that has been around for ages – bullying. Recent events, as well as a recent study, show that there is one group of people who fall victim to bullying the most: children with disabilities.
For three years, Chad Rose, an assistant professor of special education in the MU College of Education, studied more than 6,500 kids between third and twelfth grade and their exposure to bullying. Over 16 percent of the children surveyed suffered from some form of disability, ranging from learning, to emotional, to autism spectrum disorders. According to a report published at Science Daily, Rose found that over time, “bullying rates for children with disabilities remained consistently higher than those without disabilities.”
Rose’s findings are timely. Melania Trump, wife of President-Elect Donald Trump, has declared that one of her main focuses as First Lady would be to combat cyberbullying of children. Coincidentally, on November 11, a YouTube video posted by a man named James Hunter – now with a reported 1.2 million views – using clips of ten-year-old Barron Trump claiming he is on the Autism spectrum. [Melania Trump has since threatened legal action against James Hunter and Hunter has since agreed to remove the video.]
According to TheWrap, James Hunter stated that he had good intentions, having been diagnosed with autism himself, and posted the video in an attempt to get people to “stop bullying [Barron] over his ‘weird’ behavior and explain to them that it might be due to a condition.” The seven-minute clip had gone viral, especially after comedian Rosie O’Donnell tweeted about it as “an amazing opportunity to bring awareness to the AUTISM epidemic.”
According to TheWrap, Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, firmly stated that “[Barron] is not autistic.” And whether he is, or is not, is irrelevant. The scenario is a perfect example of the kind of discrimination that some children face all too often. It happens on the school bus, in the classroom, the cafeteria, the playground, and as Melania has recognized, increasingly through social media.
Chad Rose suggests a unique approach to curbing bullying when it comes to kids on the spectrum. Rather than focusing strictly on the kids doing the bullying, which is usually the general attitude, Rose believes that the victims of bullying are not properly prepared to handle how to react appropriately. Rose argues that schools should focus more on developing children’s social skills; “Teaching [children with special needs] how to communicate more effectively with their peers and with teachers can help them react to bullying in more positive ways, as well as prevent it from occurring at all.”
However, learning is never limited to the classroom. If you have a special needs child in your life, you can help them build those communication skills at any time. Simply ask questions. How is school? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Whenever you’re together, don’t let the conversation run out. The more they learn to effectively communicate in a comfortable environment, the more likely they will be able to outside of it. You can find several helpful tips on how to accomplish this in these Savvy Auntie articles:
Visits with an Autistic Niece or Nephew? Here are Some Tips!
5 Things to Do When Your Nephew or Niece Has Autism
AutismSpeaks.org is also a great resource. You may find that “Seven Ways to Help Your Nonverbal Child Speak,” and “Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew” both offer significant insight into how to encourage communication skills in special needs children.
Photo: Daisy Daisy
Published: November 30, 2016