Autism Bullying Reaches New Low in St. Paul Incident
In what can only be described as a sickening case of extreme bullying, five
individuals (3 adults and 2 juveniles) have been charged with felony kidnapping
and aggravated robbery after they lured a 16-year-old autistic teenager into a
neighborhood area and attacked him after initially indicating they wanted to
"hang out" and be his friend. The victim, who has not been identified,
is said to have recovered after the brutal attack, which took place this past
December in St. Paul, Minnesota. The three adult attackers, who were
charged last week, have been identified as Tiffany Clock, Anthony Ramos, and Trenton Johnson.
After following one of the juvenile suspects behind a library, the victim was
allegedly confronted by the rest of his attackers and repeatedly punched in the
stomach, handcuffed, and shoved to the ground. He was then shot twice
in the head at close range with a BB-gun, which the victim believed to be a real handgun prior to it
being fired. During the incident, the attackers also pilfered the victim
of his belongings, which included a CD player, a camera and a cell phone.
Stories like these which include the bullying of autistic individuals and
others with special needs are all too common. However, the callousness of
these crimes seem to be increasing with their prevalence and something needs to
be done about it.
In October of 2009, President Barack Obama signed an expanded Hate Crimes
Law, which now includes protection of those with disabilities. It’s time
to start strictly enforcing these new laws and then broadly publicize the
consequences of committing these types of crimes. Only then will
individuals begin to think twice before they decide to prey on the weak and
vulnerable in our society.
Children and young adults with autism have numerous challenges to contend
with on a day-to-day basis. Some of these include difficulty in making
friends, isolation, and loneliness. They already have enough to contend
with and we need to do a much better job in protecting them from predators and
would-be attackers, many of whom gain their victims’ trust prior to committing
Assuming Ms. Clock, Mr. Ramos, and Mr. Johnson (and the two juvenile attackers) are guilty, their swift and severe punishment would be a good start.