Washington: A new study has revealed that adolescent students with a disability or chronic illness are more likely to be victims of bullying from their peers at school.
French and Irish professors conducted the research.
"We were not overly surprised to learn that children with disability are more vulnerable to bullying, because of a lower self-esteem, sometimes differences in appearance or because they have special needs," said lead author Mariane Sentenac, of the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France.
Sentenac and her colleagues used data from the Irish and French 2006 Health Behavior in School-aged Children World Health Organization collaborative study. In all, 12,048 students ages 11, 13 and 15 participated.
Students responded to items on how frequently they had been bullied at school in the past couple of months. They also answered questions on whether they had a disability or chronic illness such as cerebral palsy, diabetes, arthritis or allergy. Twenty percent of the students in Ireland and 16.6 percent in France reported having one of these conditions.
In France, 41 percent of boys with a disability or chronic illness reported being bullied compared with 32 percent of boys without.
"In my view, good relations with teachers and parents could play an important role in preventing and detecting bullying behaviors between students because they are in a position to observe two different aspects of the adolescent`s life," added Sentenac.
The findings appear online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.