Bullying is a national problem that affects schoolkids in elementary, high, and college alike. It can have lasting effects on children’s well-being, self-confidence, and ability to learn. Many children are victims of bullying in the school system, and it’s especially common with those who have communication and social disabilities.
According to Dr. Gordon Blood, the head of the Department of the Communication Sciences and Disorders at Penn State, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can make a difference and restore the balance of power that is disrupting in a bullying scenario.
Blood says, “Bullies tend to look for shy, timid children who appear nervous and withdrawn and have poor social and communication skills.” SLPs are present in almost every school district across the country. The children that SLPs typically work with are sometimes the targets of bullying. So they’re coming up with solutions to the problem.
The most important thing that SLPs can do to help their students with bullying is to listen to them. Most of the bullying that happens during the school day happen outside of the immediate viewing of a teacher, so when the student is able to talk openly with their SLP, they can inform them of other instances.
When a child is being bullied, it may be particularly hard for them to vocalize. When the SLB praises their student for informing them of bullying, they’re enforcing that it’s ok for them to talk about it.
“Bullies tend to look for the weakest link, but if the weakest link becomes stronger, it decreases the likelihood of bullying,” says Blood. When a speech-language pathologist works with a child to increase their speech and communication habits, they are not only helping that child communicate more effectively but helping them feel more confident as a student as well.
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