Dr. Renee Clauselle Offers Solutions on What To Do When Special-Needs Children Are Bullied
Dr. Clauselle was referring to a recent incident involving James Willie Jones, who stormed a school bus filled with children on September 3 and threatened a group of students he believed was bullying his 13-year-old daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy. According to Mr. Jones, students physically and verbally abused her. His daughter was so distraught that she had to be hospitalized from the stress associated with the alleged attack.
On September 21, Mr. Jones issued an apology to the families of the children who he said did not take part in the bullying. He said he reacted this way after seeing his daughter crying at the bus stop and refusing to go on the bus. Mr. Jones admitted that he was acting like a bully and urged parents not to act the same way that he did.
It is common for those who have been abused to become abusers themselves, Dr. Clauselle said. Mr. Jones, who experienced indirect abuse through what allegedly happened to his daughter, became abusive to the children on the bus. She suggests that parents take more appropriate measures.
“As a psychologist and overall advocate for children with special needs, I am horrified and saddened by the behavior of Mr. Jones. However, I am equally appalled at the actions, or lack thereof, by the school bus driver and school district to protect Mr. Jones’ daughter,” Dr. Clauselle said.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), any special-needs child is eligible to have a bus matron accompany them. The bus matron will also monitor the other children’s behavior and allow the bus driver to focus on the road and transport the children safely. A bus matron can be obtained either through the school district or the bus company.
When asking about their child’s day, parents should target these three areas: recess, lunch, and the school bus. “Parents should ask their children who they played with at recess, who they sat with during lunchtime and what happened on the school bus. A little bit of school anxiety can grow into a full-blown phobia if it is not handled properly. If your child is anxious about something happening at school, or on the bus, don’t take it lightly.”
Dr. Clauselle urges parents to address these situations by contacting the school district and the bus company. In the case regarding Mr. Jones’ daughter, he claimed that he attempted to contact the school district and he claims that they did not respond to him. The school district, on the other hand, reports that they did not receive calls from Mr. Jones. “If it is not written, it did not happen,” she said. “It is always important to follow up with a phone call with a written letter or an e-mail.”
For more information, call (516) 750-4841 or visit www.psychologists4kids.com.
About Dr. Renee Clauselle
Dr. Renee Clauselle is a practicing child psychologist and founder of Child and Family Psychology, formerly called Psychologist on Wheels PC. She is also the Director of School Mental Health Services at St. John’s University, and has served as an adjunct faculty member at both St. John’s University and the Teacher’s College at Columbia University. Dr. Clauselle frequently has speaking engagements throughout New York City and Long Island and serves as a Distinguished Faculty Member for Lorman Educational Services, where she has spoken on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Discipline, and Special Education. For more information, call (516) 750-4841 or visit www.psychologists4kids.com.
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