Social emotional course reduces bullying by students with disabilities

By Maria Kyriacou

Social emotional course reduces bullying by students with disabilities
Study shows that students with disabilities who are offered social emotional training are more likely to curb bullying behaviour.

The Second-Step program is a learning curricula aimed at educating students who may have communicative and social skills deficits. The findings of the study showed a 20 per cent decline in bullying amongst the participants over a three-year period.

Over 120 students took part in the study, with 47 children undertaking the course involving 41 Second Step lessons, while 76 of their peers were in the control group. Confusion about social behaviour is often the catalyst for what could be perceived as bullying according to youth violence and bullying expert and report co-author Dorothy L. Espelage. She said,

“The significant reduction in bullying perpetration over this three-year study is a notable finding, because much of the existing literature suggests that students with disabilities are overrepresented in the bullying dynamic.”

Prior research showed that teachers and peers of children with behavioural disabilities were more likely to regard them as bullies. The study only showed an improvement in students who were taught management techniques of proactive bullying behaviour, versus reactive aggression.

Espelage and the co-authors of the report hypothesized that aggression amongst these students is often a manifestation of their disability, such as a reaction to social stimuli and that specific interventions needed to be developed to accommodate each child’s Individualised Education Plan.

Interestingly, students in more inclusive schooling environments were less likely to be aggressive than students in restrictive schooling environments according to data from the U.S Department of Education.

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