Illinois high school students attack, bully boy with Down syndrome

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Illinois high school students attack, bully boy with Down syndrome

Disturbing video has emerged of a group of bullies attacking a boy with Down syndrome inside a bathroom at a Chicago suburb high school.

The clip shot Thursday at York Community High School in Elmhurst shows the heartless students pushing the boy to the ground as other kids cheer them on.

“Get him!” the thugs shout as the victim seeks to escape the abuse and taunts by taking refuge in a stall.

The horrifying footage was then circulated among other students, School District 205 officials confirmed Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“Immediately upon receiving this report, our school team began investigating,” Principal Shahe Bagdasarian told the paper.

“Parents were contacted and students were interviewed. Upon completion of the investigation by the school, appropriate consequences will be issued to those involved,” Bagdasarian added.

Footage seen from the bullying incident.
A still image released from the bullying incident.
A picture of a school.
The video shows students at York Community High School pushing a boy to the ground in a bathroom.
York Community High School

Superintendent Keisha Campbell notified parents in an email Sunday that several people stood and laughed while the boy was attacked.

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the actions of this small group of students. Bullying, intimidation, and harassment diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate,” she said, according to the paper.

“Such behaviors are not tolerated, and any student who chooses to engage in these behaviors will face the appropriate consequences,” the school’s chief added.

But Cris O’Connell, whose son attends the York High School Transition Center, which serves students with intellectual disabilities, said she only found out about the incident on Facebook.   

The young boy was surrounded by a circle of students who were encouraging the bullying.
The young boy was surrounded by a circle of students who were encouraging the bullying.
The young boy was surrounded by a circle of students who were encouraging the bullying.
York Community High School Principal Shahe Bagdasarian said the school began an investigation after receiving this report.
The young boy was surrounded by a circle of students who were encouraging the bullying.
Superintendent Keisha Campbell notified parents in an email Sunday that several people stood and laughed while the boy was attacked.

“I have a lot of questions. Why didn’t I get the email? Why isn’t this being explained further to people, what the consequences are?” she told the Tribune.

The outraged mother said the incident sparked outrage among parents, who shared their own experiences with bullying at the school.

“People are coming out left and right saying, I’ve tried to report this, my child has been bullied, my special needs child has gone through this, and nothing gets done about it,” O’Connell told the outlet.

“As bad as the situation is, and you wish it didn’t happen or someone stepped in and stopped it for the poor kid, there’s proof of it,” she said.

Another parent, Robin Petchul, said her two daughters were “upset and disappointed” when they came home from school on Friday.

Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
“Bullying, intimidation, and harassment diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate,” Superintendent Campbell said.
Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
“Parents were contacted and students were interviewed. Upon completion of the investigation by the school, appropriate consequences will be issued to those involved,” Principal Bagdasarian added.
Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
“Such behaviors are not tolerated, and any student who chooses to engage in these behaviors will face the appropriate consequences,” the school’s chief added.

“But not very surprised,” she told the Tribune. “They just knew a child with special needs had been assaulted in a bathroom at York and that they knew the kids involved but weren’t friends with them.”

Campbell, the school’s superintendent, said the police department’s school resource officers have been in touch with the victim’s family and that the investigation is ongoing.

“As we continue to work together to support our students, we are thankful for the people who have already reached out through our quick tip line to provide the district with additional information,” Campbell told the paper.

“The immediate and overwhelming response from the York community is a testament to the fact that the actions of a few do not represent the entire school,” she said.

Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
The school’s superintendent said the police department’s school resource officers have been in touch with the victim’s family.
Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
Cris O’Connell, whose son attends the York High School Transition Center, said she only found out about the incident on Facebook.
Distressing footage has emerged from a Chicago high school showing a teenage boy with Down syndrome being attacked by bullies.
“I have a lot of questions. Why didn’t I get the email? Why isn’t this being explained further to people, what the consequences are?” O’Connell told the Tribune.

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for reform and better education against bullying has garnered thousands of signatures.

Students also are planning a walkout Friday, WGN-TV reported.

“A lot of parents are very angry cause the school tried to minimize the incident,” junior Emma Gurecki told the station. “This is a big deal, it should be known.”

Frank Lally, an education policy analyst for disability rights group Access Living Chicago, told CBS News: “We shouldn’t still be seeing these things happen.”

He added: “You would think that in 2022, students in high school would have a little bit more empathy for their peers. But the sad reality is students with disabilities are victims of bullying at much higher rate than their peers.”

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