There is little doubt that students with special needs require more support services, and the article referenced above adds clarity to that assertion. What also is true is that often students with disabilities are harassed, made fun of and even bullied because they are “different.” An article in The Journal of Counseling & Development refers to emotional abuse that students (not necessarily students with disabilities but rather students that are “different” per se) are subjected to from teachers. This topic is not one that gets a lot of attention, the authors day, but in certain classrooms “it can be a daily occurrence” (McEachern, et al., 2008, p. 3). Take Jason, he has had a fear of this one particular teacher and while he was “at the peak of his humiliation” because his second period teacher teased him in front of the class about the way he dressed, he finally got up the courage to visit his assigned school counselor, McEachern explains (p. 3).
And then there is Sarah with Down syndrome; she is in a general education class and on occasion her teacher “gets frustrated with her behavior” and will speak to Sarah in a tone that McEachern calls “curt” (p. 3). The teacher has even called her “slow Sarah” in front of the whole class, making Sarah feel very uncomfortable.
This is certainly, in both cases, psychological and emotional abuse, and it is why school counselors are so vitally important — especially if they are doing their jobs. Another study in Israel shockingly revealed “almost a third of students reported being emotionally maltreated by a school staff member” and low-income male students from families with little education caught the brunt of the harassment, McEachern writes. The important issue here is how counselors behave in combating emotional abuse. “Counselors have a major responsibility to act as student advocates,” McEachem continues. When there is emotional abuse reported to a counselor, that counselor has “a responsibility” to make the principal aware of the problem, and also the counselor has a duty — legally and ethically — to report this abuse to the child protection agencies, if necessary.
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Letrello, Theresa M., and Miles, Dorothy D. (2003). The Transition from Middle School to High School: Students with and without Learning Disabilities Share Their Perceptions.
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McEachern, Adriana G., Aluede, Oyaziwo, and Kenny, Maureen C. (2008). Emotional Abuse
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