In a horrific case of bullying, an autistic boy was left with a 20-cm block of wood hanging from the back of his head.
Nine-year-old Romeo Smith was attacked by a bunch of bullies as he was walking home from his grandmother’s house with his mother.
His mother, Natasha Smith, said the boy had been bullied all week long at school. As mother and son walked to their home in Mansfield, England, he lagged slightly behind.
“It's usual for him to trail behind me a bit, he does it a lot because of his autism and it's something I'm used to him doing,” said the 30-year-old. “He likes to stop and look at things. So I was ahead of him slightly.”
When she drew close to her home, she realized her son was not close behind her and sent his father, Craig, to look for him.
The man discovered Romeo hiding up in a tree as three boys stood beneath him and called him cruel names while brandishing sticks, said the mother. As Smith coaxed his son down and began to walk home with him, one of the boys lobbed a piece of wood at Romeo’s head.
The plank had a 1-inch long rusty nail embedded in it and by a cruel twist of fate, the block hit Romeo on the head and the nail embedded itself on the back of his head.
Smith carried his son home and his mother, who is a nurse, decided it was too dangerous to remove it at home. The couple took their son to the Mansfield King’s Mill Hospital where the doctors gave the 9-year-old morphine and took the nail out, which had bent when it entered the boy’s skull.
The doctors also gave the boy some antibiotics to prevent infection because the nail was so dirty.
“My partner was terrified, and I was so upset but Romeo has been so brave. He is a very lucky little boy because it could have been more serious,” Natasha Smith said.
“I don't know whether it had anything to do with his autism, but I think they did see him as vulnerable,” she added. “If I could speak to the boys responsible I would tell them to stop bullying others. I would tell them to stop the name calling and the violence. I don't want this to happen to another child.”
Smith is also concerned about what long-term effect this horrifying incident would have on the child.
“With autism everything is heightened so he was very anxious about it. We do not want these boys in trouble with the law because they are just kids,” she said. “But something needs to be done — this an example of how boredom during the summer holidays can go a bit far.”
Nottinghamshire Police said the assault is being investigated by its youth offending team and it would deal with the incident via “restorative justice.”
“We recognize that children sometimes do things without considering the consequences or the seriousness of their actions,” the police department said in a statement. “In cases such as this, where genuine remorse is shown and there is an understanding of the consequences of their actions, we try to mediate between both parties to avoid progressing down the criminal justice route.”
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kiyoshi Ota