You may have seen it in the news, a teen was talked into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but, instead of ice, peers doused him with urine, feces, cigarette butts, and spit. This enrages me. Part of me can’t believe people would behave this way, but then I have not lived the secluded, naive life, and I know what humans are capable of. Still, it’s maddening and inexcusable.
You can see the video here. ABC News Channel 5 says about the video, “The above video is graphic and disturbing. The boy’s parents say he is ashamed and scared by what happened but are sharing to raise awareness about the cruelty of bullying and the need for tolerance and kindness.”
There may be arguments as to whether it’s appropriate to share the video so publicly, especially since the teen is ashamed of what took place. I’m giving you a link to the video if you have older children and want to share with them how others will treat people with disabilities. Children and teens need to know how to stand up for those with special needs, they need to understand what’s not okay.
If the offending teen’s parents were talking about special needs in their homes, this wouldn’t have happened. If they’d had conversations about people who are different than them, this terrorizing wouldn’t have taken place.
If they went to a school that included special needs children in the regular classroom, there’s a good chance this teen wouldn’t have been abused. If that inclusive school educated students regularly on special needs, these offenders wouldn’t have committed a hate crime.
Special needs and Autism need to be talked about in every home, not just certain homes, in certain families, in certain areas of the country. Not just when there’s someone with special needs next door, or a clerk at your local grocery store. Education needs to be everywhere because you never know when your children are going to meet up with someone who has special needs.
Don’t keep your children away from people with special needs because you’re afraid of what your child will say, there are excellent teaching moments everywhere. If someone is in a wheelchair, you might be afraid that your child will ask, “What are you in that rolling thing for?” You can then kindly explain to your child that it’s called a wheelchair, and the person in said mobile unit may share information. If not, when you walk out of hearing distance you can share why they might not be able to walk.
Deborah at www.care.com wrote a fantastic article called, Teaching Your Child about Peers with Special Needs, it’s an excellent resource I highly recommend.
I feel the teens who abused the Autistic boy didn’t understand he has feelings, likes, dislikes, and opinions just like they do. Those teens didn’t see who this teen is and appreciate him for who he is, they only saw his differences. They viciously attacked his differences and made a mockery of him. Understanding, empathy, compassion, and acceptance can happen through continuous discussions about special needs and the differences in others.
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