This review aims to provide an overview of the existing literature on peer victimization at school among children or adolescents with a disability or chronic illness (i.e., chronic conditions).
Research focus on
- The increased risk of victimization for these children compared with others,
- Differences in the frequency and type of peer victimization with regard to the type and severity of their condition,
- A possible difference in this risk according to the type of school setting
- To review prevention programs designed to reduce negative attitudes or peer victimization at school toward children with chronic conditions
Researchers carried out a systematic review of the literature to identify studies related to peer victimization among children or adolescents with disabilities or chronic illnesses (including intervention studies). The research was restricted to original papers, published in peer-reviewed journals in the English language, reporting on school-aged children (aged 5–17 years).
The inclusion criteria included:
- a well-defined assessment of peer victimization,
- a well-established chronic condition status, and
- papers that explicitly explored peer victimization among children or adolescents with chronic conditions.
Exclusion criteria consisted of other types of peer victimization that are not part of the definition of school bullying—for example, sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorders
In conclusion, the findings of the review suggest that, because of evidence of higher levels of peer victimization among students with chronic conditions, there is a growing need to implement specific interventions targeted at improving shared knowledge, acceptance, and positive interactions between children with chronic conditions and their peers to lower the level of victimization toward disabled children and those with chronic conditions. Future research should focus on evaluating the efficacy of such programs. Whole antibullying programs should be developed, including a specific component on chronic conditions such as structured contacts with children with chronic conditions, and should be evaluated. By further developing a body of literature on that topic, it will be possible to improve the effect of such programs and, moreover, the quality of inclusion and overall quality of life of children with chronic conditions. By doing so, countries will not only be following the international principles regarding inclusive education (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (81), United Nation (82)) but will also guarantee the quality of the education of all children, which would represent a first step toward their full inclusion into our societies.