School pupils suspended after claims that they posted videos on Internet of an autistic student being bullied|
BOURNEMOUTH, Dorset, UK: Five pupils in Dorset have been suspended amid claims they posted videos showing an autistic pupil being bullied at school on the Internet.
The pupils, from Bournemouth and Poole College, Poole, were suspended by the school after it received complaints.
The images of the autistic teenager in Poole being taunted and bullied have horrified parents across the world. The nine film clips were posted in the "comedy" section of popular online video sharing website YouTube. They appear to show classmates teasing and baiting the boy while recording his reactions on a mobile telephone.
Dozens of shocked parents with autistic children from as far away as the United States contacted the Dorset Daily Echo on January 28 to express their horror at the images.
The teenager is a student at Bournemouth and Poole College. The college confirmed that five teenagers had been suspended pending an investigation into the incident, which took place at its North Road site in Poole.
In a statement, the college said: "The Bournemouth and Poole College has a strong anti-bullying ethos and we do not accept or endorse any unacceptable behaviour.The college has a highly inclusive learning environment and we are very proud of this status. We will not tolerate anti-social activity and will not hesitate to exclude anyone who is found to be in breach of our bullying and harassment policies."
Shortly before the end of one clip, a teacher can be seen walking into the class while the boy is being taunted.
The college, which has 23,000 students aged between 14 and 94, said that, at this stage, it believed no members of staff were present when the incidents took place. It added that it had approached the website and the clips were removed at midday.
Helen Owen, co-ordinator of ASUR, a support group for parents and carers of children with autistic spectrum disorders in Poole, said: "It's inhuman that, in the twenty-first century, we would treat vulnerable children like this."
In an e-mail, angry Crystal Worley, from Birmingham, Alabama, who has a four-year-old son with autism said: "This autistic boy has thousands of supporters in the United States rooting for him."
(Sources: BBC News Online, Dorset Daily Echo, January 29, 2007)