Melbourne boy with autism attacked by spanner-wielding teens outside Northcote school


May 10, 2018 10:52:49

The mother of a boy with autism who was assaulted with spanners outside a Melbourne school wants police to charge his teenage attackers.

Quinn Lahiff-Jenkins, 14, was attacked outside Northcote High School, in the city’s inner-north, on Tuesday afternoon.

They had armed themselves with spanners and turned on another boy when he tried to help the victim.

Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins said the teenagers targeted her son after he stood up for a friend who was being bullied.

She said they told her son, who does not attend Northcote High School, to meet outside the campus to “have a chat”.

Because of his autism, he did not realise the danger he faced and was shocked by what happened next, Ms Lahiff-Jenkins said.

“They were putting things in inverted commas like, come down and we’ll just have a ‘chat’,” she said.

“My older son had to explain to him, you know, if they put it in inverted commas that means something else and he was really surprised by that.”

The boy was taken to hospital with bruising to his face and legs.

Victoria Police says an investigation is underway.

Ms Lahiff-Jenkins said the attack was filmed by a friend of her son, who was not able to intervene but thought the video might help police.

“I know many families of autistic kids — this is their worst potential nightmare,” she said.

“For us, it’s played out and I can tell you it’s very distressing because it’s what we always worry about.”

‘Hyper-masculine, macho culture’

The State Government said “new security arrangements” were already being implemented following other incidents at schools in the past year.

Premier Daniel Andrews expressed confidence the latest case would be properly investigated.

“The school has taken this matter very seriously, as they should,” he said.

“As bad as this incident was, as difficult as it is to comprehend, it is one of a very small number of incidents that we see across our schools.”

Ms Lahiff-Jenkins is hopeful police will lay charges but said society had a role to play in teaching boys violence was not acceptable.

“I definitely would like to see police lay charges,” she said.

“But I also have some empathy for the parents these kids. We don’t always know what our kids are doing out in the community.

“We live in a hyper-masculine, macho kind of culture where we teach boys that this is the way they are supposed to behave.”

Her son is sore but on the mend, she said.

“I think he’s pretty shocked, he’s learned a lot about people is what he said, and he’s really surprised that they attacked him — he just never assumed any one would actually do that.

“I cannot believe what I saw and how I saw kids behaving.”










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