How is Anti-bullying week relevant to those with JIA?
Sadly, we know of children and young people who have been affected by bullying at school, in the workplace and in society generally due to their medical condition. Sometimes those with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) need to use mobility aids or other aids for their condition and this has led to them being bullied.
Often JIA can be an invisible illness and those with the condition have been bullied and accused of faking their condition, particularly as it is a condition that varies a lot day to day.
Perhaps most shockingly, we have also heard from several young people who have described bullying by teachers within their school. We are passionate about helping to support schools by educating them about JIA through the huge variety of resources we have available to them including:
Staff training presentation
JIA in Schools factsheet
My JIA booklet
School Toolkit to equip schools to confidently support children and young people with JIA
We help to empower children and young people to communicate with their teachers and friends with the resources we have created. Our "I have JIA" cards were developed with teens and young people with JIA to be a quick and easy way of communicating about their condition to teachers and friends without the awkwardness and embarrassment of having to explain in detail about their condition.
Our books, Peg-leg and Kipo, help other children to understand more about JIA in an age-appropriate way. Peg-leg was written by a young person with JIA, Ned Lowell, and is called "Peg-leg" as that is what he has been called because of using crutches. Ned wanted the book to be called Peg-leg to show that sometimes children with JIA are given nicknames or called names because of their condition.
Our #ThinkJIA awareness campaign is designed to help raise awareness that children and young people get arthritis. As well as improving diagnosis times, this helps reduce the stigma that can be associated with arthritis in children. Improving awareness in society helps reduce bullying.
Speaking up about bullying
It's often only in adulthood that we find the courage to speak up about bullying that we experienced earlier in life and throughout our school years. We applaud the young adults who have shared their JIA stories with us and have spoken about the bullying they experienced. Sophie, Emily, Kelly and Joel all speak about being bullied as part of sharing their story.
It is heartbreaking to read, and no child or young person should experience it, but we need to be having these conversations to show that it does happen and to put an end to bullying.
Where to find out more
The anti-bullying alliance have a wealth of training materials on their website including an information tool for parents and carers to find out more if you are concerned that your child may be vulnerable to bullying at school, or that they might be getting bullied. If you are already aware that your child is being bullied or that your child is bullying others, the information tool can help you know what to do.