'How could teenage bullies humiliate my autistic son?'
A FATHER wept as he expressed outrage over how his autistic son was targeted by teenage bullies who humiliated him, forced him to expose himself and posted video footage of the incident on social media.
Liam Davin appealed to parents to speak to their children about how to treat vulnerable youngsters as he said his family faced “an emotional nightmare” on World Autism Day.
Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly is now contacting the family to show his personal support.
Gardai are investigating the circumstances of the incident in south Cork last week in which the 15-year-old boy was targeted by five teens aged from 14 to 16.
The incident was captured on camera phone footage which was then posted online but removed from social media sites within 24 hours.
Gardai are now trying to trace a copy of the footage and the mobile phone involved.
The father-of-two, who does not want his son named, was sickened by the incident.
“I have spent the past couple of days trying not to be angry about this – trying to stay calm. But I don’t understand what these people could possibly have been thinking of? In whose world is this entertainment? What is the matter with them?” he said.
“That is not funny, it is not entertaining. The fact that they did it to start with, the fact
you want as many people as possible to see this, what is the matter with you?”
He said he has a simple message for the teens involved and their families.
“How would you feel if someone did that to you? How would you feel if it was your brother or sister? Can you even begin to comprehend the effect it could have on you or your whole family?
“What is so wrong with your children that they think this kind of thing is entertaining or funny?”
Liam said he is now determined to shield his son who has been the target of bullying in the past.
“I want to try to protect him even more now,” he said.
Liam only became aware of what happened when a concerned local girl called to his front door last Monday to inform him about the footage.
“I was really shocked. I was left reeling. But at that stage I didn’t feel I had enough to go to the gardai with. I just didn’t know what I was dealing with,” he said.
His son suffers from an autistic condition that severely limits his social skills.
The boy is currently overseas with his wife on a pre-planned trip and is due to return to Cork on Sunday.
“People have called him names in the past, laughed at him. He is quite oblivious to that.
“But when I was told about the incident, I was told that he was crying
– I think he was aware that he did not like what was happening to him,” he said.
But the family’s plight has triggered an outpouring of sympathy and support.
The Davin’s south Cork home has been flooded with messages, donations of Easter eggs, gift vouchers for the teen and presents of the Match-Attax cards he avidly collects.