You know what really bothers me? When people prey on others.
Especially when those others are weaker than they are, and are less equipped to defend themselves. Such is the case in Maryland, where two teen girls, ages 15 and 17, repeatedly bullied a 16 year old classmate with autism.
Reports, which are sketchy enough to allow for some imagination on the part of the reader, but also to allow for some shred of dignity to remain with the boy and his family, include this boy being kicked in the groin, forced to perform sexual acts with animals, being abused himself, and being forced at knife-point out onto a partially frozen pond/lake where he repeatedly fell through the thin ice. Best of all, they filmed the acts with their cell phone cameras.
If this wasn’t a family-friendly zone, there are a couple of choice words and descriptors I could come up with to more richly describe my feelings towards these girls.
If I’m reading the article correctly, the entirety of which can be found here, these incidents occurred over at least a three month period. What’s worse, they’re releasing the name and photograph of the 17 year old, because apparently she’s old enough to be charged as an adult, but the 15 year old is deemed too much of a minor to be identified. In what world is a 15 year old who participates in and films 90 days of mental, physical, and sexual abuse deemed too young to be held appropriately accountable for her actions? I can only hope the lawyers involved in the case get their chance to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
People with autism often make easy targets for bullies.
In Jake’s case, he isn’t likely to be able to verbalize to us exactly what someone has done to him. He is becoming aware of his social “different-ness” and may soon be more likely to go to great lengths to be included as one of the gang. His social awkwardness and over-the-top meltdowns may be seen as sufficient reward for pushing him too far.
In fact, studies show that kids with autism are much more likely to be the victims of bullying than their neurotypical counterparts.
A quick internet search revealed this study by CBS, done two years ago, that suggests that 63% of kids with autism and/or Asperger’s are bullied.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to build an environment for our children filled with understanding, acceptance, and zero tolerance for bullying behavior. Spread the word regarding what autism is, how it effects people, and how to help those with autism fit in.
Just look at Jake’s face. Isn’t that naivete and innocence worth protecting? This is a kid who will do anything for a laugh, which makes him such an easy target. If someone asked him to drop his pants in class, then applauded his efforts, he’d happily comply, only to tell us at dinner that he’d made the kids laugh at school. He’d be so proud to be included.