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Teasing and bullying

All schools are guided by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and their education authority to have robust policies to deal with these problems. All staff need to be aware of the policy and their obligations under it. The informal situation of the playground can provide more opportunities for this and all staff should be vigilant. See also In the SENCO office: Class teacher's perspective and Bullying.

Children who stammer report that they have been imitated, taunted and laughed at, to the amusement of the audience of children around them, and sometimes have become the target of more serious long term teasing or bullying, as their vulnerability is exposed.  The fact that stammering is often portrayed in the media as funny obviously does not help. Concern that children who stammer may be more likely to be teased or bullied is supported by some very recent research evidence.  A survey of 75 children, aged between the ages of 9 and 11, demonstrated that they held negative perceptions of children who stammer.

School strategies should encourage the child to 'tell' a parent or teacher, and should provide some means also for all pupils to leave a note in the 'bully box' or similar, located where other children cannot see the note being placed.  Children who stammer may prefer to use this rather than explain their problem.

Action should be immediate and reported back, and the child should see that it has had an effect.  PHSE programmes in class, Circle Time discussions can address the need for children to accept diversity.  Information about stammering could be provided for the class and may help reduce bullying.  The child needs to be happy with this, and ideally a speech and language therapist should be involved. Assertiveness training can hep the child to confront the bully and explain how it feels, and this skill may be developed in class and in therapy.

Summary

  • Ensure that school policies on bullying are followed.
  • Negotiate with the child and liaise with the therapist about giving information to pupils about stammering.
  • Talk with the therapist and the child who stammers about strategies for asserting himself, for instance, by ignoring comments.
  • See In the SENCO office: Class teacher's perspective and Bullying.

Supervising staff must intervene to prevent any possible teasing and/or bullying.