Vulnerable children with special needs should be protected by the school system. Children with special needs are more at risk of being victimized by their peers and reprimanded by the school system/superiors when they express certain behaviors. In 2007-2008 a census stated that there are 7 million children with disabilities about 14% of the students in the education system. Out of those numbers 34% were children with special needs.

Chapter 15 protects the human rights of children with disability stating “recognizing that children with disabilities should have full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children, and recalling obligations to that end undertaken by States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child” It’s a shame that these laws only apply to children in the public school system. It does not apply to children in private school.

That is why the accounts you are about to hear are appalling about Our lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic School it is sad that a school so respected would fail a student with special needs. The child’s parents reached out to me and reported an incident on 2/24/20 where their daughter was sexually attacked by one of her peers. “This student asked my daughter repeatedly to show herself naked, tried to look over the stall despite my daughter’s protest and then proceeded to French kiss my daughter forcefully for a prolonged time.” The father also stated that the child feels bad and dirty about the incident. This behavior was very strange to the child which caused trauma because she is very sheltered and protected by her parents. The child suffers from 3q29 microdeletion syndrome which is a rare disorder of the chromosome that makes it difficult for a child to reach developmental stages such as sitting, talking or walking. The vulnerable victim has special needs that must be met through education and kindness considering her limitations. Most children with 3q29 microdeletion syndrome are susceptible to respiratory and ear infections. She has a learning disability that has left her with limitations that should be nurtured by her superiors.

She should have been protected by her school but instead she was accused of provoking the abuser and bringing it upon herself. When the parents go the next day worried and preoccupied for their child the principal Ms. Brown stated that the child “needs to be fixed.” The school’s highest representative, the principal shamed her for being a victim of a sex crime against a minor. Even if the other child was the same age Ms. Brown should have responded in a kinder and more protective way.

Making sure the special needs child is a priority since they need an advocate to represent them and stand by them.
Then when the child goes to school, she is being accused of being a liar by her peers. How would these other children know about the incident? So now the child is not owed any discretion? Our lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic School is a horrible example of a school that does not protect the children and chooses not to emphasize in protecting the needs of vulnerable children. Her peers continued to bully her and stopped talking to her. They literally shunned her for speaking out and exclaiming justice. This child is not exposed to this kind of behavior and was in a shocked state that lead the school counselor to contact her parents. The child had expressed that she “wanted to die” because of literally being ostracized by her school community. She felt no support from her peers or her superiors.

The child stated that her principal Ms. Brown requested to see her privately in her office and proceeded to shout at her about the incident. Ms. Brown told her “you are in trouble because you let her”. When the child came home and explained that she did not want to go back to school because she is afraid of Ms. Brown. She stated how difficult this experience has been for her and she hopes she has someone to advocate for her rights because her experience is not being taken seriously.

The next day the parents requested a meeting with Ms. Brown and were shocked at her response. Ms. Brown expelled their child and told the parents “it’s time to part ways”. The child was well in her studies in this new year and had to be put in another school, so she does not have to fail the school year 2020. This school is a great example of how the education system fails vulnerable children with special needs. For the child to have faced all those health obstacles she’d had to endure, her superiors should have been stronger in protecting her throughout her education there. The student had been in that school for a few years and this has never occurred so the fact that she was abruptly expelled no explanation caused the child to cry and was very disappointed in her principal.

Children with special needs have rights! They should be protected from superiors or peers who try to bring harm upon them. It’s a shame this happens but maybe this will inspire change in the school system to protect vulnerable children with special needs. They need people like her parents to advocate for her rights. She was sexually victimized instead of being protected by acknowledging her rights and the school turned her back on her. Many children are facing these types of behaviors from their peers.

Bullying is a major problem in the school system and has become a new way to oppress other peers that may lack social skills. Superiors such as principals, teachers and staff should be extra protective and vigilant of children who need a little extra help because of their special needs. Hopefully this article will shift perspective and start a conversation.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Astharte De Los Santos and I was contacted to write about a Catholic School that expelled a child with special needs after being sexually victimized. This child needs a voice to speak up for her and her parents and I stand by her.