When I read a story of a student specifically bullied for having a facial difference, I am saddened and then angered because there is no way in 2017 that students with differences and disabilities should have to be subject to bullying and teasing purely based on their appearance. There is a major issue within our educational system that we need to address and that is the issue of the lack of inclusion. Although many schools have disability programs, many schools do not have content within their curriculum that supports inclusive-based learning and social preparedness.
Kids tend to bully what they do not understand.
When a child is born with a disability or difference, their medical needs are adhered to, but we toss them into a sea of unfamiliarity and then do little to help them once they’re bullied. Kids tend to bully what they do not understand. And if we as a culture, society, and institution cannot provide the infrastructure for these kids to thrive both academically and socially, then we have failed an entire community.
...prepare them for a world that is larger than their personal home.
Let’s start building curriculums that are centered around not only teaching kids about Kindness but teaching them about difference and how to respond and react to others who have differences and disabilities. Kindness is more than being nice, but it is how we act. No child, and even adult, should have to suffer due to their environment not understanding their difference. To quote Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We must educate our children to know about people with disabilities. It’s not to scare them but to prepare them for a world that is larger than their personal home.
Let's destroy the stigma against people with disabilities and celebrate each other.
We have much work to do in the disability community. We have much discrimination and negative stigmas to overcome. But together we can make an impact. We can change the way difference and disability are perceived in our society. Being different does not have to be a sad thing. Being disabled is not something to feel sorry for. Some of the greatest people of our time were considered “different” or disabled. Why do we allow this precept to carry on? Let’s destroy the stigma against people with disabilities and celebrate each other. Let’s embrace each other in our own uniqueness and authenticity.
Children who are bullied need to know they are not alone. There is a community of advocates, organizations, and non-profits standing behind them, fighting day in and day out to ensure that no other person is put down due to their difference. Your Difference can change the world.
Rasheera Dopson is the founder of Beauty with a Twist organization. Our mission is to provide a community that Esteem, Empowers and Educates individuals and their families who are affected by facial differences and disabilities. As the founder, I believe it my purpose to share my experiences in living with a craniofacial condition. I aspire to motivate and encourage persons of the disabled and non-disabled community to use their differences to change the world. You can read more from Rasheera on her blog.