Support Grows for Bullying Victim
On the morning of February 19, Blake Kitchen, a 12-year-old student with autism spectrum disorder, was a victim of a violent bullying incident in the cafeteria of his Liberty, MO, middle school. The boy suffered a broken jaw, a fractured skull, and damage to his ear. The beating started because he asked his attacker to let him sit in his usual spot at the lunch table.
The event left Blake’s family as well as community members outraged, including Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt, who stated, “Schools that don't act to stop bullying are essentially condoning it.” What makes this particularly deplorable is that a month prior to the incident, Blake’s parents allegedly warned the school district about bullying problems, but seemingly not much was done to resolve the issue.
The community has been very supportive of Blake and his family in hopes of putting an end to bullying. A large number of Blake’s fellow students have been wearing the color blue. “Blue for Blake” has become the slogan to encourage the victim as he recovers and to raise awareness of bullying to the wider community (“Familiar with pain of bullying, friends, strangers help Liberty boy beaten in cafeteria,” 2015).
Also, students in other schools in the district have formed a “Bully Brigade” to offer their support. Many of these elementary students have never met Blake but still want to take a stand against this type of harassment (“Liberty students form ‘Bully Brigade’ to take a stand against harassment,” 2015).
This incident is just one part of a staggering number of students who have been subjected to bullying.
According to research conducted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University, 63 percent of students between the age of 6 and 15 have been a victim of some form of bullying.
- 73 percent of these children have experienced being teased, picked on or made fun of.
- 51 percent of these children have reported being ignored or left out of things on purpose.
- 47 percent experienced being called bad names
- Nearly 30 percent have been pushed, shoved, hit, slapped or kicked.
Research also indicates that children with ASD attending regular public schools are bullied at a rate of nearly 50 percent more than children in private school or special education settings (Anderson, 2012).
Hopefully, the Liberty school district as well as other districts across the nation will take the necessary steps to prevent this type of mistreatment of students in the future.
The book, Perfect Targets: Asperger Syndrome and Bullying - Practical Solutions for Surviving the Social World, by Rebekah Heinrichs, MSN, MSEd, is a resource that takes a deeper look at the different types of bullying and what adults must do to help prevent the often lifelong effects of this behavior on its victims. Practical strategies and solutions at the school, class and individual level are presented throughout.
To learn more about Perfect Targets: Asperger Syndrome and Bullying - Practical Solutions for Surviving the Social World, click here.
To learn more about Blake Kitchen, or to support him and his family, click here.
Anderson, C. (2012, March 26). IAN research report: bullying and children with ASD. Retrieved from http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/ian_research_reports/ian_research_report_bullying
Familiar with pain of bullying, friends, strangers help Liberty boy beaten in cafeteria. (2015, February 26). Retrieved from http://fox4kc.com/2015/02/26/familiar-with-pain-of-bullying-friends-strangers-help-liberty-boy-beaten-in-cafeteria/
Liberty students form "bully brigade" to take a stand against harassment. (2015, February 27). Retrieved from http://fox4kc.com/2015/02/26/liberty-students-form-bully-brigade-to-take-a-stand-against-harassment/