Iowa teen Levi Null, 13, struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. He’s always been picked on, but recently the bullies began ramping up their behavior: they started making videos of Null at school—some of them videos of his involuntary movements caused by Asperger’s—and then posting them online with school computers.
According to Null’s mother, the videos showed students hitting Null, smacking him, and teasing him all while the teachers are shown turning away. On Monday, Josh Ehn, principal of Melcher-Dallas High School, told WHOTV that the video was taken offline, destroyed, and all those involved were disciplined.
But the parents of the kids involved in the video are now standing up for their kids. The father of the teen who uploaded the video, Levi Weatherly, says Null is asking for it. “I would say three-fourths of this stuff he brings on himself and and probably a fourth of it is bullying that shouldn’t be going on,” Weatherly said.
Reading the comments under the story, it sounds entirely plausible that this kid did provoke others with his obnoxious behavior — that is, he wasn’t a passive, entirely innocent victim. Some kids with Asperger’s are like that. The thing is, they are on the autism spectrum, and that means diminished capacity to control themselves, and to appreciate what their actions mean.
That said, if the school noticed him behaving this way, it ought to have done something about it, for the kid’s own protection and for the protection of the students he was harassing. The principal deciding that classmates taking hye-larious video of the geeky kid with autism making a fool of himself, and posting them online doesn’t constitute bullying is ridiculous.
Still my favorite all-time response to bullying: