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FSU Speaks Out on Newark Beatings…could this be your child?

Disgusting. Disturbing. Sickening. Feral……..These are all words used by people on social media to describe the YouTube videos of separate and multiple beatings of a young man with Williams Syndrome by teenagers in Newark, Delaware. The videos were filmed by the teens carrying out and participating in the beatings. Outrage generated by social media resulted in the story being picked up by local news media and the arrest of three of the perpetrators in an “Arab spring-like” event.

As an advocacy organization founded and run by families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) Families Speaking Up finds that this story places us in an unusual position as advocates. As you read the accounts of these repeated beatings, which demonstrate one of the worst forms of bullying, we feel outrage at individuals who feel so justified in their horrific actions against another human that they would proudly film it as bragging rights for cool behavior. And by contrast our gratitude and admiration go to those individuals whose social conscience led them to use social media to push this story into the hands of those who could bring about arrests and the hope of justice for this young man.
In a world that continues to encourage, both politically and socially, the inclusion of persons with all disabilities into mainstream society, families of adults with IDD face a daily challenge and fear. By definition, developmental and intellectual disabilities place these individuals at a higher risk for bullying and abuse. As in the case of the young man in this story, most of our loved ones are loving and trusting and do not have the capacity to understand that anyone would intentionally take advantage of or hurt them. Given this fact, how do you give your disabled family member the independence they want with the protections they need? The incidents played out in these videos are stark realities of what will happen to vulnerable people when they are left to protect themselves. The facts of this story beg further questions. Since it appears that this was not an isolated incident, how long had this young man endured this treatment? Why did no one defend him as they looked on? And perhaps the most important and haunting question, if these videos had not been posted, what would the headline of this story have been?

To the young man and his family to whom this happened, know that you are not alone. Families Speaking Up exists for you. To those who have or are bullying people with disabilities, know we are here. We are watching, advocating for and working to protect our loved ones. For those who used social media to bring justice, know we stand with you. We thank you. You give us hope.

Families Speaking Up is a non-partisan, grass roots group of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD), their families, friends, and caregivers. We work to ensure that all voices are heard in the ID/DD debate. We share our knowledge and experiences, advocate for and include our loved ones with ID/DD in decision-making, serve as a unifying voice, and educate ourselves and policymakers. There is strength in numbers and our many strong voices must be heard. For more information visit www.familiesspeakingup.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.familiesspeakingup.com/2014/09/20/fsu-speaks-out-on-newark-beatings-could-this-be-your-child/

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