Being Aware of Disabilities

Have you thought about what your children are learning in school other than math, reading, spelling, and science? If your child attends school in southern, central, mid-coast or Western Maine, there is a very good chance that she or he is one of nearly 100,000 students who have participated in a disabilities awareness and sensitivity classroom program offered by The Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness.

The Cromwell Center provides programs to build sensitivity and understanding, reduce bullying, and help create more inclusive schools and communities. Each day, Maine becomes a more diverse community and we are proud of this. We’ve invited people who aren’t just like us into our beautiful state, into our schools, and into our communities. While we continue our diversity journey, we’re still developing our inclusion skills and how we can make everyone feel welcome. The Cromwell Center’s programs for children do just this—help make people with disabilities feel more welcome in a world that isn’t always easy to navigate.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 28% of US students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying. Approximately 49% of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month. The most common types of bullying are verbal and social. Physical bullying happens less often. Cyber bullying happens the least frequently. Young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied. These are the kids who are less popular, are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves, or are unable to afford what kids consider to be “cool.”

Most bullying takes place in school, outside on school grounds, and on the school bus. Middle school students most often experience bullying in the classroom, hallway or locker area, cafeteria, phys ed class, and in the bathroom. Unfortunately, only about 20-30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying.

Kids who bully others can also engage in risky behaviors into adulthood and are more likely to abuse alcohol, get into fights, drop out of school, be abusive, and have criminal convictions.

Studies have shown that adults can help prevent bullying by keeping the lines of communication open, talking to their children about bullying, encouraging them to do what they love, modeling kindness and respect, and encouraging them to get help when they are involved in bullying or know others who need help.

Disabilities aren’t always easy to see or identify. Stray words or actions can be hurtful coming from one child to another. As an adult, similar stray words or actions can be more than hurtful—they can be detrimental to the employment relationship and an employer can be liable for the actions of employees. Let’s shape the behaviors of children so we don’t have to change the behaviors of adults

Let’s celebrate everyone’s contributions.


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