Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Studies

Department

Sociology and Family Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Hunt

Second Advisor

Amber Paulk

Third Advisor

Yaschica Williams

Abstract

Research on bullying has increased in the last decade; however, this research rarely focuses on bullying of special needs children and the effect it has on families. This study adds to the existing literature by addressing how bullying affects the special needs population in a southern community. In considering the unique caregiving challenges that special needs families experience, this research examines whether bullying brings added stress to families and caregivers and whether they believe the community can bring awareness, growth, and a sense of belonging to their children and families. Parents or caregivers attending a local rehabilitation center completed a survey regarding their children’s experiences with bullying. Findings suggest that parents and caregivers of children of all ages are susceptible to bullying. Bullying affects families, the child, and the caregiver bringing added stress, which affects all age groups. Further, respondents indicated that they believed communities could offer more social interaction and awareness outside of the school settings.

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