How do I convince people my kid isn’t dangerous?

Paul Gionfriddo, Mental Health America

By the time teachers, principals, and others learn that your child has a mental illness, your child has probably acted out. Maybe more than once.

On top of that, we’ve all heard that people with mental illnesses are sometimes a “danger to self or others.”

So, even though your kid just has a pretty common disability, they start off by thinking he or she is dangerous.  They may want to suspend them at the first sign of trouble.

According to the US Department of Education (USDOE), kids with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended or referred to law enforcement as kids without them. They are 5 times more likely to be put in seclusion. They are 6 times more likely to be put in restraints. Scary, huh?

How do you convince people your child isn’t dangerous?

Here’s what you do.

Speak up.

Tell people that having a mental illness is not the same as being dangerous. One in five children will have a mental illness, and most will never be violent.

Remind people that the big problem with mental health conditions isn’t that they make people aggressive.  It’s that they make people go off by themselves because they feel that they have no friends. The solution isn’t isolating them more.  It’s building “circles of friends” around them.

Share this fact – kids with mental health conditions are far more likely to be the victims of violence than to be violent themselves. USDOE says that 75 percent of bullies in schools are kids without disabilities. But 51 percent of kids who are bullied are kids with disabilities.

Finally, ask for more help for your child. If your child’s “acting up” is related to his or her disability, it’s your right.

 

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