Understanding children with cerebral palsy and bullying: A mixed methods approach

Kristina Stang, Brendan Frainey, Beverley Tann, Linda Ehrlich-Jones, Dawn Deike*, Deborah Gaebler-Spira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aim: The study aims to explore the views of children with cerebral palsy (CP) regarding their experiences being bullied and their perceptions of their primary bully. Method: Forty-three children aged 10–18 with CP were given the California Bullying Victimization Scale. Fourteen of the children shared a bullying experience orally or written after the survey. Using a mixed methods analysis, the survey answers were tabulated with descriptive statistics and analysed by Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) level. The comments were coded to determine qualitative responses. Results: Most bullied children viewed the bully as less than or at least equal to them regarding popularity (73%), performance in schoolwork (85%), and physical strength (56%). Bullied children preferentially told an adult at home. Code words and common categories of bullying were determined from their experiences. Interpretation: Children with CP experience bullying but do not view themselves as inferior to their bully in popularity, intelligence, or physical strength. Most bullied participants confided in an adult at home. Children with GMFCS Levels 1, 2, and 3 seem to be at greater risk for bullying than children with GMFCS Levels 4 and 5. Children with CP demonstrate individualized strategies for resilience with reliance on adults for resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • bullying
  • cerebral palsy
  • childhood disability
  • grounded theory
  • qualitative research methods
  • school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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