A 14-year-old boy with disabilities was being beaten and bullied by his classmates on a daily basis, and when he finally fought back, he was suspended for five days, KXTV-TV reported.
Elisha McDonald says that her son, Cameron Kenney, has both mental and physical disabilities, including a paralyzed left arm, which made him a target for vicious bullying.
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Cameron claims he was beaten up on a Friday afternoon near Florin High School in Sacramento, California, which caused him to suffer a concussion. His mother said that the school suspended him after they saw him fighting in a video they obtained, but she claims Cameron was fighting in self-defense.
Apparently in California you cannot fight back, even if it is in self-defense.
“We’re being told because he self-defended himself, it’s ‘mutual combat,’ whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean,” a frustrated McDonald said.
The school’s reasoning behind Cameron’s suspension is that no matter the reason, there is no excuse for violence. The “zero-tolerance” policy tells students that if they are attacked physically, they should walk away and tell a teacher.
This past Tuesday there was a school board meeting, which McDonald and another mother, Lili DeVaney, attended to discuss the mistreatment of their sons. Like McDonald, DeVaney’s son was also unfairly suspended after defending himself from a bully.
DeVaney stated that the school district has a special term for when someone fights back in self-defense called “mutual combat,” which permits the suspension of victims like Cameron.
“It’s ridiculous. My child is scared to ever defend himself,” DeVaney told KXTV. “I mean, was he supposed to never defend himself? Was Cameron supposed to just get beaten up worse? Get knocked unconscious? Be in a coma?”
The situation goes beyond the school district, as the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into the case.
The school district has said they are currently trying to implement new things to decrease bullying. One of their new systems would have students report bullying anonymously so that if they don’t want to be named they don’t have to be.
McDonald, however, doesn’t believe these new ideas will help with the bullying problem and demands “justice” for her son.
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“I want to sue,” she told KXTV. “This is not going to happen again. My son is not going to be hurt.”
KXTV also spoke to a psychologist about the psychological ramifications of bullying and the best way for children to handle it if it happens to them.
Dr. Andrew Mendonsa believes “children do have a right to defend themselves, but … in the sense of escaping a situation.”
“If someone has their hands around their neck … they have a right to break free of those kind of holds,” he explained. “But again, breaking free and then engaging in the situation, unfortunately, is going to be seen as [being an] aggressor.”
Mendonsa added that something like bullying must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
“Unfortunately, when there are bullies we just say, ‘Go get an adult, get out of the situation,’ and then let the administration deal with the bully,” he told the station. “But we never really empower this kid to really, like, how do you stand up for yourself?”