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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Addressing Bullying in an IEP

Now that we have determined that Bullying is an IEP issue how do we address it in the IEP? Some strategies include: • Writing a safety plan, with the child’s input, that outlines what they should do if they are being bullied. At a minimum, this should include who they should report the incident to and where they should go. There should be more than one person and location to make sure there is always someone/someplace to go if the child needs help. It’s very important to develop this plan with the child’s input so they feel comfortable using it. • Having the child shadowed during unstructured times such as lunch, recess or classroom changes to ensure safety. • Educating the child that the bullying is not their fault; that they have the right to be educated in a safe environment. • Requesting new assessments to identify 1) the cause of the bullying, and 2) the effect the bullying is having on the child. This might include a social/emotional assessment, mental health assessment, recreation assessment or others. • Writing new goals in the IEP specific to the bullying. These goals could include coping strategies to utilize when the child is being bullied, educating the child on ways to identify bullying or helping to increase the child’s social skills. • Putting in place a structured routine during recess and lunch to limit interaction between the students involved. I have seen positive results in separating the class into play groups and giving each play group the choice of two areas to go during recess and lunch. As long as the children are in different areas it should limit their interaction and incidents of bullying. Since you are limiting the entire class, not just the child being bullied, it reduces their feeling that they are being punished even though they are the victim. • Putting in place additional services to accomplish the new goals. This could include social skills training, school counseling, educational related mental health services, training for school personnel and students, parent training and counseling and many others. When discussing these strategies and issues with the IEP Team, it’s important to note that it’s irrelevant whether the members of the Team agree that the child is being bullied. All that matters is that the child perceives that they are being bullied; therefore, it is affecting their ability to be educated. Try not to focus solely on what occurred but rather how do we help the child.

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