Jo Worgan column

Jo Worgan.
Jo Worgan.

This week is Anti-Bullying Week, a national campaign that aims to make bullying unacceptable for everyone.

As a mother to two young children and one of whom is on the autism spectrum, I have a real interest in this campaign and been following with great interest.

In particular two autism campaigners and advocates within the autism community are doing an awful lot to help stop the bullying of autistic children and adults.

Anna Kennedy OBE, who is founder of Anna Kennedy Online, has two grown up sons who have autism and set up her own anti bullying campaign, Give us a Break.

This campaign was set up firstly to highlight the fact that bullying does occur towards children who have autism in mainstream schools and then secondly to tackle this issue.

A survey carried out by Anna Kennedy Online of over 900 parents found that shockingly 97 per cent of autistic children are seen by their parents and carers as vulnerable to bullying.

The survey also reported that over 60 per cent of these children had experienced bullying in mainstream schools.

What this campaign strives to achieve is better understanding within schools about autism and how these children can be belter helped during non-contact time such as break and lunch times when their time is unstructured, with the emphasis on keeping these children safe and improving social interactions.

The campaign urges parents and schools to share information about strategies that have worked to stop the culture of bullying children with autism. Kevin Heeley, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is also a much loved campaigner of mine and he is still driving forward his Autism Anti Bullying Campaign, in which he highlights the need for laws to be put in place to protect both children and adults who have autism from cyber bullying.

This is a great concern for me as Tom grows older as he will obviously be using social media and will be at greater risk to bullying and online abuse. Anti-Bullying Week has become a way for the autism community to stand together and to act as a united force to stop the bullying of people with autism.