Boy with Down's Syndrome get's suspended from school for a hug

Katherine - posted on 12/21/2011 ( 32 moms have responded )

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http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/291554/...


Park Hills, MO (KSDK) - A 14-year-old boy who has Down syndrome has been suspended from school due to alleged behavioral issues.

"He got suspended for sexual harassment for giving the school bus driver aide a hug," said Tonia Fujimoto, who is Aleczander's mother.

Aleczander is a student at Central Middle School in the Central R-3 School District.

"If you know Down syndrome children, they're very loving," said Fujimoto. "And they're going to display more public affection than anyone else is going to display."

Central R-3 School District Superintendent Dr. Desi Mayberry says due to privacy considerations he is not able to discuss this case. However, Mayberry believes school officials took appropriate disciplinary action.

Fujimoto showed NewsChannel 5 a notice from district officials which reads: "Alec approached (the school bus aide) on the bus for a hug and she told him no and tried to push him off her. He proceeded to lay on her and (mimic a sex act, while clothed). She tried to push him off her and hollered for help. When she finally was able to get him off of her, he ran to the back of the bus. After a lot of coaxing, Alec finally got up and got off the bus."

Regarding the alleged sex act, Alec's mother said, "There was no such thing. He was excited. And I feel like when he gets excited and he hugs me, it's like Christmas morning. He'll come up and give me a hug you know. And he'll be jumping up and down. And I feel like that may be what she experienced. I don't think his act was sexual in nature. He gives people hugs all the time."

Fujimoto says school officials tell her there is security video of the alleged incident, but they will not show it to her.

"When it comes to them not showing me the video, I think I'm getting my rights taken away as a parent," she said. "I just feel like they should let me see the videotape. And let me see what they're accusing my son of."

The notice from district officials reads "This incident has been referred to juvenile."

"I think that's stupid," said Fujimoto. "I mean who puts a child with Down syndrome in juvenile."

Regarding the video of the alleged incident, Dr. Mayberry says they do not make a practice of sharing such videos with parents.

Juvenile prosecutors said they could not discuss whether charges will be filed because of Fujimoto's underage status.



Where do you draw the line? He's developmentally disabled. But I have worked with DD adults and if you teach them what's appropriate and what's not they usually listen. The mom says, "He's just a hugger."
Which is great and all but obviously this bus driver didn't want that hug. So where does the blame lie?

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Lucy - posted on 12/26/2011

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I've never seen that episode, Jen, but I can imagine what a fuss it kicked up!



Like you say, not everyone thinks that way, but it's scary how many do. I can think of maybe ten recent examples off the top of my head of otherwise perfectly sensible adults belittling and underestimating people with Down's syndrome... but I'll just give you a couple...



I was in a department store with my MIL and when we got to the counter to pay we were served by an ex student of mine who happens to have Down's Syndrome. We did the usual asking how each other were doing, how's the family etc, when my MIL (who has never met this woman before) cuts in with her best cutesy wutesy voice, "my goodness, haven't you done well getting a job here, dealing with customers and responsibilities like handling money! What a little star!". I swear I wanted the ground to swallow me up.



The other example that springs to mind is two residents (one with Down's Syndrome, one with moderate learning difficulties) in the supported group home my Mum deputy manages who have started a relationship. they are both adults in their 30's, but the outrage expressed by their parents that the staff are "allowing" these people to have a sexual relationship knows no bounds. It's as if by virtue of their learning disabilities their parents believe they have been frozen at the age of 5. One of the mothers has actually referred to it as child abuse!



What happened on the bus in the original post and the mother's response seems to me to be in the same category of wanting to hold back and stunt the social development of people with learning difficulties, to protect them from the world's challenges. I think the motivation is simply for the mother to protect her son, but by not teaching him appropriate social skills and to be responsible for his actions, she is doing him no favours.

Lucy - posted on 12/26/2011

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As a teacher of students with special educational needs within main stream schooling, I find it very frustrating when I hear people say that people with Down's Syndrome are more affectionate and loving than other people. It is nonsense, patronising and is an attitude which can be very detrimental to the child's development. As a society we seem determined to infantilise people with learning difficulties and disabilities like Down's Syndrome well into adulthood- if I had a pound for every time I heard a well meaning adult say "awww, bless him" or use baby talk to one of my teenage students I would be a rich woman. It sends me crazy.

It is very clear from the lengths to which the aide in this situation went to discourage the boy that we are talking about a lot more than a friendly hug, and there is no more reason for him to behave in that way than any other 14 year old student. Just like every parent, it is the mother's responsibility to teach her son acceptable social behaviours, and up to the school to reinforce them. It may take a little more work, but a child with Down's Syndrome is as capable of recognising social boundaries and the feeling of others in exactly the same way as any other child. To just shrug and say "he's just a hugger" does this boy a great disservice, and will set him up for problems as he develops into adulthood.

Having said that, in the interests of developing positive working relationships between pupils, parents, schools and outside agencies (like the bus company), the mother should be permitted to see the footage.

[deleted account]

"Awe this is so sad! I think people should be able to walk up and hug a stranger. We are social creatures and thrive on social interactions."

Julianne, I couldn't disagree more! We are social animals but we are PACK animals. We are not evolved to accept affection without invitation of some sort. I'm sorry but it is not normal human behavior to walk up an hug someoen who doesn't want it. I personallyl reallly hate it when I'm hugged by someone and I didn't ask for it. It seems to be the new handshake and I don't like it.

I could not have handled this particular situation as well as this aide did because I would have smacked the child. Unwanted touching is wrong.

Tracey - posted on 12/22/2011

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Alec approached (the school bus aide) on the bus for a hug and she told him no and tried to push him off her. He proceeded to lay on her and (mimic a sex act, while clothed). She tried to push him off her and hollered for help. When she finally was able to get him off of her, he ran to the back of the bus

So she said no & he didn't stop, tried to push him off & he didn't stop, and shouted for help & he didn't stop. That is more than a hug and if he can't understand x3 negative responses he should be forced to undergo behaviour management.

Tracey - posted on 12/22/2011

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My son is 13, autistic & GDD with a mental age of 4-5, he knows that no means no and that you don't touch people without permission. If he can learn that then anyone can.

This boy needs to learn what is appropriate and soon or is Mummy going to say he is just hugging when he is 20 and forces unwanted attention on a girl.

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Kim - posted on 09/24/2013

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It is a very sad and uneducated society we live in when it comes to children with intellectual disabilities. My son is 14 years old and also has Down Syndrome. He has just started high school and has already been suspended 4 times because the high school has a no tolerance policy for hitting, bodily contact or spitting. I can totally understand and appreciate this policy when it applies to children without disabilities, however, when you have a child with down syndrome who already has that strike against them and has issues with impulsive behavior, and you add a new, very large, very scary high school into the mix, where do you draw the line? They say he is 14 and he should know better, yet they continue to send home 1st grade level homework because they feel that is where he is intellectually?????? So which is it, can he understand the act of a 14 year old or that of a 6 year old? It's an age old double standard and it has to be fixed before it causes our children irreversible trauma. Teachers who teach children with special needs have chosen their profession and should do everything in their power to make sure our children have a fair education, free of discrimination, we as parents of special needs children were not given that choice, We need to be the voice of our children with special needs and be heard loud and clear. Don't let our crippled educational system fail our children!

[deleted account]

The comments under the article are rather sad. Everyone is just assuming it's PC nonsense and comparing this boy to a 2 year old who can't be expected to know any better.



ETA: Just to add, if he does only hae the mental capacity of a 2 year old, then why is he in a mainstream school, even as a special education student? If he is higher functioning than a 2 year old (and I assume that he is based upon where he is), then he can absolutely be taught that certain types of contact are not appoved.



I mean, I'm sure that someone out there has explained that there are good and bad touching in relation to his own body right?

Meredith - posted on 12/28/2011

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Im interested to know why they arent allowing her to see the video, I would be fighting them to see it if it was my son. I think she has EVERY right to see that video.
Now with that being said, if the aide felt harrassed, then it should be dealt with, not sure if charging him and suspending him will do much good though, but I have never dealt personally with a down syndrome child, at least not in this aspect. He can be taught right from wrong so if there was a sexual mimic act going on it needs to be dealt with now instead of later.

[deleted account]

"I find it very frustrating when I hear people say that people with Down's Syndrome are more affectionate and loving than other people. It is nonsense, patronising and is an attitude which can be very detrimental to the child's development. As a society we seem determined to infantilise people with learning difficulties and disabilities like Down's Syndrome well into adulthood- if I had a pound for every time I heard a well meaning adult say "awww, bless him" or use baby talk to one of my teenage students I would be a rich woman. It sends me crazy"

Lucy, that is exactly my opinion as well. There was a huge furor over a Family Guy episode (when isn't there?) because they showed the son having a girlfriend with DS. She was clearly also a character who was deliberately mean but everyone let her get away with it because of her DS. The show was castigated because it presented someone with DS as not the angelic darling from that TV show Life Goes On and also that they showed her being very interested in sex.

I also have the same opinion when people talk about certain cultures who aren't as affected by technology, etc., as being naturally more spiritualy gifted and attuned to nature, like animals. It's as you said, demeaning.

And you know, I was just about to type that of course not all people think that way just to cover my butt but I won't. Some people with DS are jerks. Why? They're HUMAN just like us and while they have different abilities, they are not any better or worse than the rest of us.

Jurnee - posted on 12/25/2011

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If this was my child I would like to see the video. This is not a simple case of hugging but of repeatedly being told no and the boy ignored that and not only hugged but simutalted a sexual act. He needs to learn boundaries,the mother is viewing him probably as still 'her little boy', but he will soon be a grown man and needs to learn approriate boundaries. I dont think jail time will help him though, he and his mother wojld probably benefit from counselling and behavior modification. Even if he is being taught in school what is appropriate and not, if his mother is not on the same page, she can be undoing it all at home.

[deleted account]

I hope I can ask these questions without getting too badly flamed. I know that DS children are developmentally delayed, etc. however do they also not experience puberty around the same time? Isn't it possible that he was aroused but unable to process that feeling correct? I think, I really do think that sometimes we place DS people in this angelic (for lack of a better word) category where they are incapable of being bad or wrong. Now, I am NOT saying this boy is a rapist or a bad kid but I think sometimes we dismiss any conclusion that paints people (especially children) with DS as anything other than sweet and confused.

Tracey - posted on 12/24/2011

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Julianne - you would be happy for strangers to come up to you in the street and hug you and your kids?

Jayce - posted on 12/22/2011

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I agree that the mom has not taught her that no means no but why should she take their word for it (that he sexually harassed the aide) without showing her the video. If they have proof of his actions, then show the mother. Were I in her shoes, I'd do/say the exact same thing until someone showed me that video.

[deleted account]

Awe this is so sad! I think people should be able to walk up and hug a stranger. We are social creatures and thrive on social interactions. Its well known that babies need affection to grow and thrive, well it doesn't stop because we get bigger!
The parents should have taught him its not socially acceptable to be open and loving like that. Its just so sad we have to teach our children not to show affection...

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 12/22/2011

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I agree, his mom needs to teach him bounderies. When I would run into that one lady and her son she would tell her son to ask first before he would give a hug. She forgot once when I saw her, but luckily I'm used to it and she appologized.

The blame falls on the mom for not teaching her son age appropriate social skills for his mental age.

Katherine - posted on 12/22/2011

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He does need to know what no means and that's why I asked where the blame really lies. Why the mother deemed him as just a "hugger" and why she didn't teach him the appropriateness of such hugs.





ETA: She seems to not understand that when someone says "no" to her son, they mean NO.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 12/22/2011

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But Rebecca it depends on your mental age. If you have MS and do something inappropriate, then that is harrassment because you do know better. MS doesn't affect your mentality. But Downs syndrome does affect your mentallity.

[deleted account]

I get the feeling it doesn't matter what is on the video -- the mom is clearly minimizing the kid's behavior. Just because you are disabled doesn't give you a free pass to grope someone.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 12/22/2011

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When I lived in Rochester there was a woman I would always run into with her adult son who has down syndrome. He was very affectionate and liked to hug. But his mom would tell him to wait and he would listen. I'm used to it because of my job and this bus aide should be used to it as well. I think that the sexual harrassment charge is more than a little wacky if you ask me and some people are more easily offended than others.



I do believe that the mom should teach her son that no means no and that she should be allowed to see the video

Sherri - posted on 12/21/2011

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Oh for crying out loud. For real. This is what is wrong in our society now a days even a hug is now deemed sexual. Also if they are going to suspend him then they HAVE TOO show the mom the video.

[deleted account]

He should Not and i doubt he will be charged with sexual assault.Well i hope not anyway.

I do think suspending him is the right move and teaching the child right from wrong when it comes to touch and personal space.Sorry my last comment did not reflect the fact that i do not agree with charging him.

Janice - posted on 12/21/2011

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First of all, why is the video being with held? If the boy was really that aggressive then prove it!



Second if this was a 1st time event than as a child with Downs Syndrome he should be cut a bit of slack.



That being said, yes at 14 he does need to be taught that no means no. It is extremely important that he understands boundries as he is becoming a young adult. I agree with Debb that maybe the mother doesn't realize her son is growing up and is not doing enough to help in this area. However, charging a 14 year old with DS with sexual assault when he obviously hasnt been taught is crazy. Steps need to be taken to help this boy learn how to behave making him a sex offender wont do that.

[deleted account]

You have to deal with it.I would want the allegation confirmed as it was said the child did mimic a sex act.I would bring another source in to confirm this.(police just to view the video as i am sure the mother cannot due to protecting the other children that were on the bus).Some places do have this policy put most do not and they would be the first to ask the parent to view the footage.
Its not okay for this to happen and i feel the aide was protecting herself.When you work with children you have to protect yourself as many workers can be accused unfairly.I think this is a very fair way to deal with the matter.
Its not fair on the aide or the child if nothing is done.The child needs to understand this is not okay.

[deleted account]

I'd be wanting to see that video too if it were my kid. I wouldn't want to just go on their word. If it happened as they said they 'shouldn't' have a problem w/ her seeing the video.

All that said though... if he's functioning enough to be w/out a full time aide then I think by 14 he should certainly be able to understand that no means no and he needs to listen.

Jayce - posted on 12/21/2011

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I'm curious as to why they won't show the video to the mom. I'd be demanding to see it. It makes me think that they're making more out of the situation than needs be just so the aide doesn't look like an ass.

That said, it sounds as though this boy is high functioning so he should be taught about boundaries and personal space.

Denikka - posted on 12/21/2011

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I agree with Cathy. Even a developmentally disabled person needs to be taught about personal boundaries and that no means no.
What happens if later on it DOES turn sexual? And he won't take *no* as an answer? Not good all around.
If he's able to go to school, then he can obviously learn and can control himself to some extent. That needs to extend to *hugging* and learning that when someone says no, he needs to stop.
I think there's been a serious lack of discipline if ANY child will go as far as refusing to stop even while being told *no* and being physically pushed away.

Although I will say that if he's being disciplined by the school or whomever, the mom should be able to see the video of what happened.

[deleted account]

Well, first and foremost, if it was only an innocent hug as the mom said, I would say to the aide, don't take a job working with children if you aren't able to work with disabled children. I don't agree with segregating them (aside from classes to assist with their disability) and I think that anyone choosing a career, even as simple as driving a bus (filled with children), or aiding a bus driver should anticipate that this or something like this can happen.

That being said, it seems like there is more to this. If, as the mom said he 'hugs' her like this:

"He proceeded to lay on her and (mimic a sex act, while clothed)"

There is something terribly wrong and the mom is failing to teach him what is appropriate behavior when 'excited' and what is not. Maybe it's as simple as the mom is failing to realize that DD children DO experience hormonal impulses that can lead to sexually inappropriate behavior, because she still thinks of him as her 'little boy'?

Regardless, it would be a shame for him to be charged and labeled a sex offender at 14, when he really just needs more attention paid that that issue by his family and therapists.

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