Recently I reported on a story for Autism Daily Newscast, a story that made my blood boil, it doesn’t happen very often but I felt that I had that scratching underneath my fingertips that I had to voice this (possibly cantankerous rant) in a public forum . You can find, and read this story here, beware though, it contains pretty graphic descriptions of what a 17 year old boy with Asperger’s was subjected to by his so called friends.
It sparked within me a range of emotions which I will attempt to explain to you here.
Firstly and for mostly came anger.
Due to a new government legislation these 18 year old men were set free by a judge. It was bad enough that they tortured a boy for three days and filmed absolutely heinous acts using a mobile phone because, and I quote from the article “they were bored.” It felt a lot like they had ‘gotten away with it‘. This new incentive, the brainchild of Chris Grayling in 2012, a man in control of the justice system who had no experience of being ever holding justices gavel.
New legislation came in force in March 2014, which allowed for more lenient sentences for 18-25 year old’s. Instead of sending youths to jail, they were given leaner sentences, tagged, given counselling, supervised on the streets and forced to do community service.
In my mind, these boys filmed laughing and performing vile acts was terrible enough. But this lad had Asperger’s Syndrome. He was with lads he had built up a trust bond with, people he trusted which would have been incredibly tough for him, but most of all he was vulnerable. Vulnerable and completely taken advantage of in the hands of young men he had probably gone to school with, may have grown up with, but definitely spent time with.
This boy was abused, tortured and will probably be affected by the ordeal for the rest of his life. His captors are roaming free, tagged and under supervision, yes, but in 5 years time they will have nothing but a spent conviction and their consciences to live with.
His family will bare the scars for ever. No amount of talking about it, knowing that justice has not been served will ease the pain for them. That their little boy was made to endure. I put myself firmly in the camp of autism parent whilst reading the report.
I then put my thinking hat on, and in came pity.
I pity a government that cannot put legislation in place to protect our children from this happening. Why did the Judge find it rightful with all the physical evidence placed before him, to let them off so lightly? It’s absolutely disgusting, and the UK justice system is a disgrace.
I pity the boys who have not received the education required to understand Asperger’s Syndrome. Why aren’t young people; knowing that by 2025 as quoted in most recent reports, almost half of our population will be autistic or on the autistic spectrum; educated in schools? Why aren’t they taught acceptance from birth, on the hearth? I really can’t cast aspersions on these men’s upbringings, but they should have known that what they were doing was VERY wrong. They had never been in trouble before (or had they never been caught? A question for another time perhaps). I pity their parents, knowing their sons are ultimately capable of such evil against a vulnerable boy.
I read on that the family are appealing to the new justice minister through their MP, I hope to see a petition and a lobby group soon that I will show support to forthwith as I’m sure other parents I’ve spoken to today will.
Things are going to have to change in the UK. Sooner rather than later. I hope that the readers of Newscast will support these parents in making a positive change. I would also like to wish the young lad and his family all the best in the healing process and hope that they are also receiving the support they deserve.