Children who stutter are at greater risk for experiencing bullying than children who do not stutter (e.g., Blood & Blood, 2016; Langevin, 2015), but it can be hard for them to respond given their communication difficulties. Bullying can increase the severity of stuttering behaviors, due to increased emotionality, and exacerbate the adverse impact of stuttering, including negative reactions, social isolation, and reduced self-esteem (e.g., Blood et al., 2011).
Fortunately, there is much that speech-language pathologists and others can do minimize the occurrence and impact of bullying (Langevin & Prasad, 2012; Murphy, Quesal, Reardon-Reeves, & Yaruss, 2013). Bullying prevention programs involve strategies both for the child who stutters and for those in the child’s environment (Yaruss, Reeves, & Herring, 2018). For the child, key goals include education about and desensitization to stuttering and bullying, as well as practice with appropriate responses to bullying. Goals for the environment also include education about stuttering and bullying, as well as the establishment of an environment in which it is okay to be different but not okay to bully others. Preliminary research has demonstrated the effectiveness of these approaches, so clinicians should be alert to the possibility of bullying of their children who stutter and prepare themselves to incorporate anti-bullying efforts into their treatment.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not of the International Fluency Association.
Blood, G. W., & Blood, I. M. (2016). Long-term Consequences of Childhood Bullying in Adults who Stutter: Social Anxiety, Fear of Negative Evaluation, Self-esteem, and Satisfaction with Life. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 50, 72–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2016.10.002
Langevin, M., & Prasad, N.G. (2012). A stuttering education and bullying awareness and prevention resource: A feasibility study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43(3), 344-358. https://doi.org/10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-0031)
Langevin, M. (2015). Bullying experienced by youth who stutter: The problem and potential intervention strategies. Stuttering Meets Stereotype, Stigma, and Discrimination: An Overview of Attitude Research, 71–90. https://wvupressonline.com/node/558
Murphy, W. P., Quesal, R. W., Reardon-Reeves, N. A., & Yaruss, J. S. (2013). Minimizing Bullying for Children Who Stutter. McKinney, TX: Stuttering Therapy Resources, Inc. https://www.StutteringTherapyResources.com/bullying
Yaruss, J.S., Reeves, N., & Herring, C. (2018). How speech–language pathologists can minimize bullying of children who stutter. Seminars in Speech and Language, 39, 342-355. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0038-1667163.