Last night I came across an absolutely appalling story through our PLoS colleague Steve Silberman. On his twitter feed, Steve linked to this article, describing how a special needs middle school student in Ohio was repeatedly bullied by her teacher and a teacher’s assistant.
The student’s family managed to record several instances of the bullying, which you can hear in the video below (jump to the 40 second mark to get right to it). It’s worth watching, but for those who can’t access the video at work, here are a few of the things that these adults were recorded saying to a grade 8 student with special needs:
“Cheyanne, are you kidding me? Are you that damn dumb? You are that dumb?’’ Chaffins can be heard saying in one instance. “Oh my God. You are such a liar. You told me you don’t know. It’s no wonder you don’t have friends. No wonder nobody likes you because you lie, cheat.’’
They also poked fun at her physical appearance:
“Cheyanne, don’t you want to do something to get rid of that belly? Well evidently you don’t because you don’t do anything at home. You sit at home and watch TV. All night. All weekend.’’
And they also used physical activity as punishment:
On another day, Chaffins forced Chapin to walk on a treadmill as a punishment for getting a question wrong. The school district claimed the treadmill is just there to “refocus’’ students and not punish them. Chaffins later declares that Cheyanne has broken the treadmill and should run in place.
I don’t have much to add to this, as I’m hoping that the awfulness of this situation speaks for itself. Students should not be subjected to bullying in schools from anyone (for any reason – weight, race, sexual orientation, etc), least of all from their educators. Hopefully this episode will continue to bring attention to the issue of bullying in general and weight-related bullying in particular.
For anyone interested in weight-related bullying and discrimination, our colleague Dr Arya Sharma has written numerous posts on the topic, which can be found here. Well worth the read.