A survey by Mencap of people with a learning disability has found that nearly nine out of ten respondents have experienced bullying in the last year. Two-thirds are bullied on a regular basis and almost one-third are suffering from bullying on a daily or weekly basis. People with a learning disability face prejudice and widespread discrimination that often makes them feel like outcasts and prevents them from taking a full part in society.
Public attitudes in the United Kingdom towards people with a learning disability remain discriminatory. The Mencap survey suggests that the bullying of people with a learning disability is institutionalised throughout society.
Nearly nine out of ten people (88%) with a learning disability reported being bullied within the last year. Living In Fear demonstrates that people with a learning disability are targeted as they form a vulnerable section of society. As a direct consequence of their disability they experience intolerable levels of discrimination in the form of bullying. The bullying of people with a learning disability is also distinguished by the regular and ongoing nature of the act. People with a learning disability are often lifelong victims. Two-thirds of people (66%) said that they had been bullied regularly (more than once a month) with 32% stating that bullying was taking place on a daily or weekly basis. For almost a third of respondents, most days bring another encounter with bullying. Simple activities such as leaving the house, walking to work or catching a bus to the shops are often upsetting and distressing experiences. Often bullying is carried out so frequently that the victim is able to identify the perpetrator. The effect of regular bullying can be devastating. Being called a name may appear trivial in itself, but it can assume a greater significance when it happens all the time to the same person. Such intimidation constantly impinges on the daily lives of people with a learning disability. It reinforces negative feelings of being isolated and different.
'I get called stupid, teased all the time. Children follow me every day and call me names, threaten to kill me, in the street and at the centre'.
Female, 40, Glasgow
'I face bullying all the time. People at the day centre call me names and threaten me, the bus driver told me to get off the bus. Sometimes when I'm out, people laugh at me because of my disability and shop keepers are rude if they can't understand me, or if I take time sorting out my money'
Female, 48 London
'On my way home, I have to pass by the youth centre and am called names by young people. This happens everyday from Monday to Friday, and gets worse in the school holidays as they're around all day and all night'
Male, 32, Manchester