Video shows a group of teenagers bullying an autistic 16-year-old by pointing a gun at him and giving him orders:
"Watch him, get on your knees, and kiss my shoes," the gunman is heard saying.
The interrogation lasts a few minutes.
The same demand is repeated by others in the room, after hearing what sounds like a gunshot.
"Oh dude, you better f****** kiss his shoe, dude," another kid is heard saying.
"I'm doing this so if you die, I can straight up show that against.. and go to prison...so you better kiss his shoe dude," the kid filming the incident says.
The boy holding the gun has been charged with aggravated assault.
We all know that kids with autism and other disabilites are bullied and even physically abused by their peers, but the individual stories are still heartbreaking.
Brendan Dobbs, 13, formerly from Georgia and now from Starkville, knows he looks the same as other kids, but he must deal with a disability not immediately appararent.
“People have been very mean to me because they think I am weird or annoying. They don’t understand that it is just the way my brain operates and processes things,” he wrote in a recent essay discussing his form of autism called Asperger’s Disorder. “I have constantly been bullied by people who do not understand me or don’t like someone who is different. I have been pushed down, hit, made fun of, and shunned, especially when I moved here to Mississippi. They do not understand that I have feelings too and want the same things as them, although it is not easy for me to express it.”
His mother, Melanie Dobbs, said every day is a struggle for Brendan.
“He has been the constant butt of jokes, bullied when we moved to Mississippi on a daily basis and taunted as the weird kid,” she said. “In actuality, he is the most tenderhearted, compassionate, brilliant and handsome young man.”
Jennifer Allen of Brookhaven said her son, Currie, who is autistic, used to get hit regularly in PE class.
“He got punched every day in gym. He was either punched, spit on, elbowed, pushed down, something every single day in gym,” Allen said. “It’s because PE is hard to supervise. When you have 30 kids playing dodgeball or kickball or basketball, it’s almost impossible for one person to supervise them all.”
A study published yesterday shows that autistic students are much more likely to be bullied than their peers:
“I would call it a profound public health problem,” said Paul R. Sterzing, lead author of the new study and an assistant professor at the school of social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. “The rate of bullying and victimization among these adolescents is alarmingly high.”
The children at greatest risk, it turns out, appear to be those who also hold the most promise for leading an independent life. The researchers found that the risk of being bullied was greatest for high-functioning children who end up not in special education programs, but in mainstream classes, where their quirks and unusual mannerisms stand out and they are more exposed to bullies.
Many parents of children with autism already are well aware that their children are taunted and tormented at school, but the new study suggests the problem is pervasive. Dr. Sterzing’s data, collected from a nationally representative sample of 920 middle- and high-school students with an autism disorder, shows that 46 percent have been bullied. By comparison, in the general adolescent population, an estimated 10.6 percent of children have been bullied.
A family is suing the Leander Independent School District in Texas because they believe employees at Mason Elementary School failed to protect their autistic son from bullying:
The lawsuit says students called the child names, made fun of him, laughed at him and pushed him, and once, a student "punched (him) in the face."
The suit also alleges that teachers daily sent the child to the bathroom with known bullies, even when the child did not need to go, and that the "bullies would yank (the child) out of the stall with his pants down, and make him touch his penis." One boy touched the child's genitals as well, according to the suit.
The child told his parents that the boys threatened him with physical harm if he didn't follow their commands, the suit said.
A groups of bullies attacked 13-year-old autistic Kayleigh, kicking her, hitting her, and pulling her hair:
"A reminder for later," one bully said at the end of the ordeal, Belgian news magazine Knack reports.
One of the bullies posted the video on YouTube but quickly removed it.
"My heart broke when I saw the video," the girl's unnamed mother said.
"As parents we were in shock."
Kayleigh's mother reposted the video to Facebook:
The video has now been shared 70,000 times in a matter of days, with the community rallying around the victim's family.
Police in the West Flanders town of Roeselare are now investigating the attack, and the bullies now risk expulsion from their school, where the victim also goes.