Bullying is defined as behavior toward another person that is intentional, repetitive, and hurtful resulting in an imbalance of power between the bully and the target.

The issue of bullying is particularly relevant for students with exceptionalities—and therefore for special educators. Bullies target their peers based on real or perceived differences in appearance, behavior, or ability, and many children with exceptionalities exhibit such characteristics. Some facts:

  • According to a 2007 Mencap study, 80 percent of children with learning disabilities are bullied at school.
  • The National Autistic Society reports that 40 percent of autistic children and 60 percent of those with Asperger’s syndrome have experienced bullying.
  • Children with behavioral disorders such as ADHD are almost 10 times more likely as others to have been regular targets of bullies, according to a report in the Journal of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.
  • A 2006 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that having a special health care need is associated with being a target of bullying, while having a behavioral, emotional, or developmental issue is associated with bullying others and with being a bully/victim—that is, someone who both bullies others and is victimized by his peers.

As school communities become increasingly diverse, it is more important than ever that teachers, administrators, parents, and students work together to create a tolerant school climate where each student feels safe and valued. The school must not only be safe—it needs to be perceived as safe and calm.

Read CEC's Policy on Safe and Positive School Climate.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Did you know that 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day for fear of being bullied? The PACER Center offers the tools you need to address this important issue in your school and community. Show your support in October — and all year long.

Other Resources for Mental Health

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
3615 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016-3007

The AACAP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was established in 1953. It is a membership-based organization composed of over 7,500 child and adolescent psychiatrists and other interested physicians. Its members actively research, evaluate, diagnose, and treat psychiatric disorders and pride themselves on giving direction to and responding quickly to new developments in addressing the health care needs of children and their families.

Annie E. Casey Foundation
701 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Founded in 1948, the primary mission of the Annie E. Casey Foundation is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. In pursuit of this goal, the Foundation makes grants that help states, cities, and neighborhoods fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
1101 15th Street, NW, Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005

For three decades, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has been the nation's leading legal advocate for people with mental disabilities. Our precedent-setting litigation has outlawed institutional abuse and won protections against arbitrary confinement. In the courts and in Congress, our advocacy has opened up public schools, workplaces, housing, and other opportunities for people with mental disabilities to participate in community life.

Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD)

The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD) is the official division of CEC committed to promoting and facilitating the education and general welfare of children and youth with emotional or behavioral disorders. CCBD is dedicated to supporting the professional development and enhancing the expertise of those who work on behalf of children with challenging behavior and their families. CCBD is committed to students who are identified as having emotional and behavioral disorders and those whose behavior puts them at risk for failure in school, home, and/or community. CCBD supports prevention of problem behavior and enhancement of social, emotional, and educational well-being of all children and youth.

National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

The OSEP-funded National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports was established to address the behavioral and discipline systems needed for successful learning and social development of students. The Center provides capacity-building information and technical support about behavioral systems to assist states and districts in the design of effective schools.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-3042

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots organization for people with mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has affiliates in every state and in more than 1,100 local communities across the country.

National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health (NACBH)
1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1012
Washington, DC 20036-3536

NACBH members are multi-service providers of mental health and substance abuse treatment, family and child services and supports, and educational and juvenile justice programs. Including both non-profits and for-profits, with roots in the child welfare, health care, or juvenile justice arenas, all are committed to creating responsive systems of care for children and families dealing with emotional and behavioral disturbances.

National Association of School Psychologists
Suite 402, 4340 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

NASP represents and supports school psychology through leadership to enhance the mental health and educational competence of all children.

National School Climate Center at the Center for Social and Emotional Education

The quality and character of school life -- school climate -- shapes students' development and capacity to learn. The Center includes a growing body of information and guidelines about school climate in general and school climate research, policy, and practice in particular.