Has Your Child Been Stigmatized? Why Labels Hurt at School
The idea behind the word “stigma” leaves a painful scar–labels stick. As kids get older all that “nice-nice treat others with respect” goes right out the window once those same students transition to middle school.
Sorry but your kidlet who is integrated into the regular classroom will get bullied. If I sound a bit flippant about this, I don’t mean to be. Consequently, this is not about respecting other classmates or what should happen at school, because in a nice world, well, that would be nice. It is about what actually will happen.
While this scenario might seem painful to a parent, it is the unfortunate reality of labeling a child or worse, allowing the school to label your child for you.
Elementary school administration would do everyone a service by gathering all the students together to discuss the fact that all people are different and all have challenges; hence, the old adage, “no one’s perfect.” Sure this assembly would be time consuming and take time away from academic instruction, but this is a lesson which needs to be taught. Kids should know at a very early age that, in fact, no one is perfect.
It is only a matter of time
Keep in mind that students grow up together and usually enter some of the same schools and classes at one time or another. Each year, the same students go to school with each other. Nothing ever changes and neither do their attitudes. It is possible there could be some serious repercussions with the very children that at one time might have been a “friend.”
Fast forward to middle school; the gloves come off and students enter survival mode. If one is being harassed, many adolescents might feel relieved it is happening to someone else even at the expense of an exceptional child. These thoughts are real and parents should realize that labeling children early in elementary school could have harmful results.
Asking a teacher or administrator to speak with the other kids about our child having a disability gets a big “F” on the classroom report card. While it seems innocent enough to communicate our child’s’ issues in an effort to gain support, it is nobody’s business except for the IEP team. Parents should be very careful about indirectly labeling a child in school. Students will ultimately transition to middle and high school and so will the bullies.
Confidentiality laws are not there just for the medical professionals. They also apply to educational facilities; more specifically, children’s behaviors, diagnosis, medication and academic ability should be protected at all costs.
Parents could be proactive and teach inclusion for all. Refuse to allow the school to label your child because if you don’t, someone else will.