by Leslie Burby
In April, Kevin Healey, a 38 year-old autistic man started a campaign to get stricter laws in England to help eradicate autism focused bullying. Kevin is no stranger to advocating for autism related issues/rights.
According to his site (http://www.kevinhealey.net/?page_id=2), “Kevin Healey has been campaigning for autism rights for the last 12 years, he is one of twins, both of which have been diagnosed sufferers. In 2001, Kevin founded the North Staffordshire Asperger & Autism Association (NSAAA), then went on the found the Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society (SAAS) in May, 2007.
Kevin has campaigned to get better services and support for people with an autistic spectrum condition, he has won various awards over the last decade including Charity Champion of the year in 2007. He was also awarded the Stoke-On-Trent Citizen of the Year in 2006. Kevin has recently had his autobiography, ‘Twin Brothers Worlds’Apart’ published, with all the proceeds going to charity.
Kevin is also a Councillor for the largest autism charity in the UK, the National Autistic Society, and Ambassador for the NAS.”
Bullying is not a new issue. Kevin has been bullied since he was a child. Now the bullying has invaded his social media. He has taken steps to file complaints and fill out the lengthy “hate crime” paperwork, but the bullies don’t face any consequences. After being stalked, trolled, harassed and having death threats sent to him he decided to start his own specific Autism Anti Bullying Campaign.
In a Twitter conversation with Kevin, when asked, “Do you think the courts should acknowledge bullying laws for a specific disability?” He wrote, “They [hate crime laws] are not working, legislation needs to be better.”
The Bullying Bill that he is proposing seems logical and easy to implement. See the details of the bill here http://www.autism-campaign.co.uk/autism-bullying-bill/.
In this campaign video http://www.autism-campaign.co.uk/, he states how he wants tougher prosecution for bullies and that police need to take bullying as a serious offense. Right now if an autistic person is bullied, they have to file a claim with their local police station. However, the victims of bullying have a lot of work cut out for them. According to http://www.bullying.co.uk/general-advice/what-to-do-about-bullying-out-of-school-hours/ “Hitting or kicking you is an assault and calling you names or making rude gestures to you over and over again could be harassment. It’s not easy for the police to know who is telling the truth so if you are bullied like this keep a diary of who says and does what and also who else was there and saw what was going on.” The bullying site also gives this bit of so-called “advice,” “If you feel worried about running into trouble at home see if you can get friends to come to your home so that you can go out together. Take a different route to the shops and if it’s dark stick to well lit streets. You could also get a personal safety alarm. These cost about £6 and you can get them in the home security section of DIY stores.”
Ok so if you are bullied it is advised that you have to keep a diary, buy an alarm system, fill out forms and the police won’t think you are telling the truth. No wonder, Kevin Healey had to start a campaign!
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, a prominent Legal Commentator, Joshua Rozenberg decided to share that, “You are not going to get people brought before the court…just because somebody gets an upsetting, or an offensive message and that person happens to be autistic.”
Joshua, perhaps you are not getting it. Let me spell it out for you, they are being bullied because they are autistic. What is motivating bullies to stop when there are no ramifications for bullying? Stated on the home page http://safe.met.police.uk/bullying/consequences_and_the_law.html “No matter how bad bullying can seem, many incidents of bullying are not actually crimes, and therefore might not be a matter for the police.”
Meanwhile, the victims are suffering horrible anxiety, and fearing for their lives. A large percent of victims report having suicidal thoughts and self-esteem issues.
“It is estimated that at least 20 children and adolescents a year commit suicide because of being bullied – this is a conservative estimate based on documented cases known to us. It is likely that the actual number is higher, perhaps much higher. (These figures also do not take into account the numbers of young people who attempt suicide but survive.)
According to the National Bullying Survey, more than half of those who reported being bullied had been physically hurt (parents report over 71%); 34% of those physically hurt required attention from a doctor or hospital. 3% of the attacks involved a weapon.”
For UK statistics of groups of people being bullied and the ill-effects of bullying click here http://www.scribd.com/doc/138892096/Ditch-the-Label-Annual-Bullying-Survey-2013-Key-Bullying-Statistics-in-UK-Amended-Version.
To sign the petition to get stricter laws passed for autism bullying. http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/national-and-international-governments-autism-bullying-laws-to-change-anti-autism-bullying-laws-to-be-changed-nationally-and-internationally No one should be treated cruelly.