Iowa town at odds over bullying involving autistic teen

Levi Null (WHO photo)

Some members of an Iowa community appear to disagree over whether a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome is a victim or perpetrator of bullying.

WHO-TV reports 13-year-old Levi Null has the autism spectrum disorder Asperger’s Syndrome.  His condition causes involuntary body movements, and Levi also might act out by making offensive remarks or name-calling.

What’s resulted is verbal and physical altercations with other students, and a recent online post of video of Levi’s involuntary movements.

Levi’s mom says it’s bullying.

Some citizens of Melter – including adults related to the accused bullies – seem to think Levi brings it on himself.

WHO reports the father of the teen who posted video of Levi says his child was wrong, but that he thinks only about one-fourth of the actions taken against Levi are actual bullying, and the rest is Levi’s fault.  Another resident said his nephew “cocked him in the mouth” when Levi called him a name.

Experts say people with autism cannot necessarily control how or when they might respond to their surroundings and situations.

The teen who posted the video was disciplined under the school’s ‘intolerance’ policy, but not for bullying.   The school principal also said the online video post was not found to be bullying.  The school board president says he stand by the principal.

5 comments

  • Gina

    Making fun of the way an autistic child walks is most definitly bullying!!! I am outraged that it wasn’t considered that!

  • Gina

    In Burlington just a few weeks ago a group of kids were charged with assault for shooting a video similar to this. The child shooting the video was also charged. You CANNOT and SHOULD NOT ever post something like that to a social network. There SHOULD be a zero tolerence for bullying EVERYWHERE!!!!! The child that did this should be ashamed of themselves, especially bullying a child with autism who has troubles with social situations.

  • Mike

    Physical violence is an incorrect response to words no matter how much one might dislike those words.
    “Socked in the mouth” sounds like assault and battery.
    Isn’t assault and battery illegal?
    The school principle, in loco parentis, is responsible for the safety of all his students . The principal cannot abdicate from that responsibility or delegate that responsibility to the student body.
    We know that classmates only very rarely stand up to support a student who is being bullied.

  • Newhouse

    This family (of Levi) needs to contact the US Dept of Education about the school climate. as disabled children, in a public school are a constitutionally protected class. If this obviously inappropriate behavior is happening to this child, it’s most likely happening to other children in the school/district as well. The feds became involved with the Anoka Hennepin school district in MN when bullying/school climate/culture were out of the control of their district administration. After a 2-3 year process, things appear to be much better there.

    Schools need to be the frontline in the battle against bullying, reshaping student culture when parents/ guardians don’t have the skills or ability to teach their children life skills for the real world beyond the small town bubble. Most students will grow up and move out into the big world and either perpetuate this kind of behavior (and end up incarcerated) or will realize how screwed up their hometown was. I fled small town IA for college and never looked back once I found out how small-minded and backwards it was. Booyah.

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