School Districts Must Take Bullying Seriously. It Truly is a Matter of Life or Death.
Bullying is a problem for many children who are eligible for special education services, whether it is due to a physically apparent disability or by the fact that the child is accessing related services. Many of these children can find themselves at the mercy of a bully just for being different. A new documentary "Bully," releasing on April 13, looks at the problem of bullying in school and two of the stories follow concern two special education students.
Recently, in Buffalo, NY, a 14 year old high school student committed suicide due to repeated instances of bullying by peers due to his sexual orientation. Following a criminal investigation which resulted in no charges filed against the perpetrators, the Williamsville Central School District suspended several teens suspected to have been involved. This tragic event is only the most recent in a long line of bullying instances across the United States.
Bullying is a major issue and has garnered closer public attention with the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. There is no question that bullying is endemic on our school campuses and impacts all those involved. No child should be bullied and the schools have an affirmative duty to prevent and address bullying. When a victim of bullying is a child with a disability, the failure of the school to properly address the problem can be seen as a denial of a free and appropriate public education (F.A.P.E.).