Forum: Parents, teachers need to support special educational needs students to prevent bullying

I refer to Mr Wesley Loh's letter, "Victims of bullying are robbed of a fulfilling education journey" (May 28).

Recently, attention was drawn to cases of students with special educational needs being bullied.

The Dyslexia Association of Singapore conducted a study in September last year on bullying and its impact on special educational needs students.

The study found that students with special educational needs are vulnerable to bullying, and this is linked to misperception of their learning differences as weaknesses.

It also found that parents felt that not enough is being done to raise awareness of this issue. These findings emphasise the importance of efforts to debunk misconceptions of people with special educational needs like dyslexia.

The study found that support from parents and schools is important in preventing bullying incidents. Most parents want to help their children but may not know how to manage the situation.

They can start by identifying the warning signs and risk factors of their child being a bullying victim and consider the following steps:

  • Hear their child out and listen without judgment.
  • Ensure the child's well-being - manage any anxiety or stress related to bullying rather than let the issues slide.
  • Ask what the child wants to do and develop an action plan together.
  • Contact the child's school, communicate and follow up on the episode.
  • Educate the child on victimisation and who he can approach for help.

Bullying in schools should never be ignored due to its long-lasting impact on a child's lifelong journey. The Ministry of Education's zero-tolerance policy on bullying supports this view.

Children with special educational needs need the support of parents and teachers to enjoy a safe educational journey where they can perform well not only academically but also in their lives.

Madinah Begum

Educational adviser and senior educational therapist

Dyslexia Association of Singapore