Students struggling with disability more likely to be bullied

A SOUTHERN Cross University research project into the abuse of students shows students with cognitive disabilities experience significantly higher rates of abuse than those without a disability.

Dr Sally Robinson from the University's Centre for Children and Young People led the research project, which was presented to education and disability practitioners at a seminar in Lismore yesterday.

Dr Robinson said students with cognitive disabilities are three times more likely to experience abuse than other students.

"We know that students with cognitive disability experience higher rates of abuse, neglect and exploitation than students without disability," she said.

"In this study, we took a particular focus on finding out what students with disability themselves thought about safety and harm in and around school."

Dr Robinson said her study was the first in Australia to take that approach.

She said the results of the study would be used to work out what steps can be taken to improve the system.

"We have developed recommendations for change to better support students, families and teachers, along with short user-friendly resources for students, families and professional stakeholders," she said.

Dr Robinson said the research had implications for improving education to all children.

"There are a lot of resources in the education system and a lot of people willing to implement them," she said. "But we found hardly anyone knew about all that stuff.

"People need to know what's there but policy makers need to also be informed by experiences of students with disabilities."


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