Bullies and their Victims
By Robin Best, M.A., C.C.C. / July, 2011

Does anyone look back into their childhood and not remember the class bully? Everyone has probably been victimized by a bully at one time or another, including the bully.

While anything can be an excuse to traumatize another youngster, from height issues to sexual orientation, being taunted due to speech deficits can be prevented.

I have heard many comments from family members regarding their child's speech impediment from "he sounds so cute" to "it doesn't seem to bother her" to "I want to wait to see if he will grow out of it."

Speech disorders, which can be described as speech that draws attention to itself and detracts from the communication process, are not cute. Rarely do they not bother individuals involved, even though they don't complain, and often they become further ingrained as a habit over the years and can be more difficult to correct. Speech disorders are often used by a bully to harass and humiliate the youngster involved.

The frustrating part to me as a professional is that this excuse for targeting another youngster frequently can be corrected.

As parents, we make decisions on behalf of our children that affect their past, present and future. We can set up our children to have success in school, socialization skills, and self-esteem with the actions we take. Or we can set them on another path entirely with the path we don't.

While there will always be a mean youngster who will target another child to victimize, there are steps we can take to decrease this from happening. Parents need to talk to their children and explain that we need to be tolerant of others. We don't need to look like each other or agree on all aspects of life or sound like each other to get along in this world. When we all feel comfortable in our own skin, we will be less likely to look to put others down to make ourselves feel better.

Get your child help to correct a communication disorder as early as it is detected. If you are not sure whether or not the speech impediment is developmental, seek a speech language pathologist's counsel, not just advice from a family member or neighbor.

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