Children With Type 1 Bullied because of their Diabetes

(thank you to the lady on Facebook who originally posted this)

A recent survey shows that children with Type 1 diabetes are likely to be victimized by bullies.

The poll conducted by the Children With Diabetes together with the Juvenile Diabetes Research (JDR) Foundation reported that out of the 181 parents who responded to the survey, more than fifty percent said that their child had experienced bullying due to their condition.

Sixty per cent of parents surveyed believed that being viewed as different by other kids cause distress to their children more than the daily injections and finger prick tests needed to keep their children alive. Parents of the children with Type 1 diabetes reported that some of the taunts their children are getting from other kids besides being called fat, were druggie, junkie, and weird. They are also telling the children that their condition is their fault for eating too much sugar.

A Clinical Study showed that children with diabetes reported higher rates of relational victimization and lower levels of pro social peer support than youths without diabetes. Diabetic children are also prone to suffer depression, social anxiety and loneliness.

Experts say that it is important for doctors and other health professionals treating kids with diabetes to find out whether a child is being bullied. The child might need help with social skills or self-esteem to help ward off bullying or teasing and help him cope better.

Bullying could also interfere with diabetes care, because if a child is afraid of being bullied, he may not test his blood glucose or stick to his diet when he is with his peers.

“I think there is also a place in the schools for education related to children living with diabetes,” says Margo Small, a social worker with the diabetes team at The Hospital for Sick Children. “This kind of education could help minimize the potential for bullying.”

Meanwhile, JRDF said that parents and victims of bullying should have the time to talk and communicate. The Foundation also said that there are groups that could give advice and support, such as, the CyberMentors, which could be accessed online.

The organization said that they believe that to prevent children from being bullied and stigmatized, people need to have a wider understanding of the disease and to challenge common misconceptions. They also said that people should remind the authorities about the importance of conducting research for Type 1 diabetes.

To raise awareness and to mark “Diabetes Week,” which runs from June 13 to 19, the JDRF is asking the public, the media and the government to give their commitment for a better understanding of Type 1 diabetes and to stress the need for its cure.

“Through our campaign, we ask MPs to take notice of children in their constituencies with Type 1 diabetes and to urge them to consider Type 1 diabetes when making healthcare decisions for the country.” JDRF stated.

Meanwhile, JDRF has produced a pocket guide to Type 1 diabetes, which gives useful information for friends, family and care givers of a person suffering from the disease.

Kids will find a reason to pick on or bully other kids, no matter what.
Give everyone all the education about Type 1 diabetes you want, it wouldn’t change things on the playground. In fact it might make it worse. The real education needs to be about bullying, not diabetes. Programs can go to the kids with diabetes, with tips on dealing with kids who want to pick on someone “different,” how to report bullying, how to get teachers and other adults to watch for it and stop it, etc.
I’m not saying bullying is acceptable, but diabetes is only one of many things a mean little jerk at school will use to pick on a classmate.

When I was a kid, my friends would threaten other kids with my needles. Something to the effects of “Dont mess around or he’ll stab you with a needle!” That made them mostly lay off. I was never too keen on it thoough. Honestly, I never really noticed being bullied explicitly for the D. Other things, yes, but D didnt really matter if it came to being mean.

Diabetes Week should be held during the school year. Our school is out nearly 3 weeks by the time it rolls around.

I had no idea this was happening to these children.

I’m 60 years old. I can remember and relate to the taunts. I was hard of hearing (hearing aids were not as good back then) and shy socially. I was fine with close friends. I have a simple solution to the bully problems in school. The only thing a bully understands well is intimidation and embarrassment. I read an article years ago to this solution and had high success rate. His or her parent will spend the whole 2 days at school. The child will be escorted to all activities, classes, cafeteria and physical education by a parent. Parent will sit in the back of the class or next to the child. You get the idea. All students must realize that bullying is never good and people don’t forget the bad experience.

This is one area that the JDRF has failed miserably in, media education of the true nature of diabetes. They are so focused on fund-raising for research, which not a bad thing, that they leave us out here having to deal with all the myths and stereotypes perpetuated thru inaccurate news stories, tv shows … the list goes on.

Yea, we do what we can to educate, but often we’re just “preaching to the choir” so to speak and the folks who really could influence those myths just don’t seem to hear the sermon

When I was in sixth grade, and was new to the school, I remember a boy calling me a “Diabetic Freak”. I was on the verge of tears and I remember my teacher, Mr. Warner, got up and grabbed the boy by the collar/neck and slammed him against the wall and got all up in his face and told him a few things. I appreciate Mr. Warner standing up for me and the boy never said another word. Other than that, I have been pretty lucky. There are many people who just don’t understand, and I just try to educate!!

well this is kind of hard. sure stuff happens. i remember a couple of things. kids are going to be kids. if it isnt about the diabetes it will be about acne or how you dress or something. its part of the real world. and growing up.
i feel nothing but protection towards type 1 kid ,being i was one. but i dont know about this. the mental depression goes beyond the being picked on. mental health care should be part of every diabetic care program. not just because some one is called names.
here s what kind of worried me though. how many type 1 kids in one school? and they want to educate everyone else in the school about it. sounds like you are asking for more problems to me.

I started back to school today and heard that New Hampshire has a new Anti-Bullying law that includes cyber bullying. Teachers now have an obligation to report bullying, just as we have to report child abuse. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Hope it is going to help.

I suppose the problem with this is that the child has to have responsible parents. At my school the teachers never complained as the parents used to come up the school and threaten them :frowning:

I think the issue is that it is different with a lifetime chronic health condition. You can lose weight, acne get’s better, hair can be dyed but T1 diabetes is with you forever. A fat kid can be called names and think well I’ll show them and go to a gym, on a diet but a T1 has to know that their whole life they’ll be different. Plus that child may have to combat ignorance and stupidity all their lives and not just from kids, but from adults, proffesionals (just last week my HR director asked me to ‘wean’ myself of insulin, just like her t2 father ) and Teachers themselves. I am currently supporting a T1ED whose lecturer called them out on being overweight and drinking coke in class. She was so upset she didn’t explain that she needed it, and now she has a really serious Eating Disorder. The problem is that the child has to grow up with this illness and the ignorance that accompanies it. And that can have very serious ramifications later in life.

Eric’s not in school yet, but when he is, I plan on insisting (as part of his 504 Plan) that his diabetes educator and I be allowed to come to the school and explain his condition to the students. I’ve already done some educating in his daycare, because even little 3- and 4-year-olds have questions. So I tell them a very simplified version of the facts and they seem to accept it. It’s a practice I plan to continue as long as I can. You can’t force kids to be enlightened, but if you don’t at least put the information in front of them, their continued ignorance is guaranteed.

all t1 mums should be like you :slight_smile:

Ah, I was mercilessly teased in a time when animal-based insulin caused more tissue build-up scarring. Other girls picked on me because of the “lumps” on my arms caused by years of injecting.

Now I am a school psychologist. So, here is my 2 cents. I have not done any research on educating kids about your child’s disability, but I would be very careful. As someone mentioned, kids find any reason to tease/bully. do some research about what works because I can see this coming back to bite your child. Kids start bullying re: mom coming to school to protect you, etc.

As a teenager, i have found that i receive more of a kind of banter than bullying and it can be quite amusing especially since it comes from friends who know that i take it on the chin, for example… “if you eat a Mars bar does your leg fall off?”, and i also found that strangers are far less likely to bully. Having said this it may be the case that this is happening with younger children rather than teenagers.

Becuase of all the bullying i suffered in the past i dont trust people enough to make friends and most of the friends i have don’t even know i’m diabetic…i had friends put off because someone told them i was contageous and they would die i was called a druggie…they even called a teacher who didnt know me over to tell them i was taking drugs…they hid my insulin…they ate my sugar pills they laughed at me when i hypoed… they even dangled sweets in my face to rub it in i wasnt t allowed i etc…my specialist never considered that i could have stress or depression…apparently my HBA1C was high because of my diet

My parents did but nothing really came of it…the more the teachers knew the worse everything got…because the kids assumed it was me that told thing got worse

When I was in kindergarten my fellow class mates were jealous. I was able to eat a snack at 10am while they all had to take naps. hahaha. I do not ever remember being bullied. That was way back in the VERY early 60,s. Even to this day I do not remember any issues.

I am type one diabetic, for 42 years and I currently work in a public school system I do not recall any teasing when I was diagnosed in the tenth grade, but hey, that was in 1968…
Kids and parents have changed. I believe that the school staff and teachers should be thoroughly eduated about type one diabetes, and then the teachers of the classes in early elementary may want to mention why Johnny or Jane has to go to the nurses office or test h-s/her blood sugar in a nonjudgemental, low- key way… I too beleieve that too much attention to the child as a diabetic, and not as a regular kid, will come back and" bite you",particularly in grades 5 through 8…

I think a no bully, no violence policy for any situations/behaviorsthat do not support childrten’s safety, security and sense of well-being in the schools, backed by strong administration and written policies across all areas is the best. Parents and children must be held accountable for their behaviors… I am a Joe Clark fan: Tough Love is the BEST Love

God Bless,

There is a no bullying policy in our schools, which did not always exist. It came into being when one Parent whose child was harrassed on the schoolbus every day by a pack of kids threatened a lawsut. The Principal enforces it, but the Parent or child must make a complaint. This has worked in the younger grades. Many children experience bullying, and the bully (usually the same one or two offenders) doesn’t really need a reason to pick a target. D is just a reason and if the child did not have diabetes, the bully would find some other excuse. Bullies must be identified; principals and teachers must act to prevent the bully from harrassing others; school should be a safe environment. In our school, the bully is usually warned a few times, then may even be suspended. This ensures parents, who may otherwise not discipline this child for agressive behavior toward others, pays attention. If the school does not take action, and the parents of the bully refuse to deal with the issue, I’m not sure anything can be done.