The current study measured children’s (9- to 10- and 11- to 12-year-olds; N = 90) social cognition regarding bullying and exclusion of peers with different types of disabilities.
Children with disabilities often experience high rates of bullying, teasing, and social exclusion; and these experiences are related to a host of negative outcomes for children who are victimized by these forms of bias-based bullying; however, little is known about children’s cognition regarding bullying and exclusion of youth with disabilities. Results of the current study revealed that children’s expectations of how inclusive their peers would be toward youth with disabilities were related to participants’ own inclusion expectations and that male participants and those who reported greater levels of frustration were less likely to expect that they would include peers with disabilities. Participants’ moral judgments about the harmful nature of bullying and their own rates of aggressive behavior were associated with their likelihood of intervening if they observed youth with disabilities being victimized. Finally, results indicated variation in types of intervention behaviors children expected to employ. The findings indicate that youth recognize the importance of challenging bullying and exclusion of youth with disabilities; however, they are also influenced by their perceptions of peer responses. (publisher abstract modified)