Schools can do more to stop disability hate crime
Kyle tells us about the disability hate crime he experienced while he was at school.
People used to call me a freak and just really pick on me. It was horrible. I felt like people didn’t like me because I was different.
My name’s Kyle. Throughout school and college, I was bullied and made fun of due to my disability. In school, people used to single my friends and me out by calling us horrible names. Then when I got to college, I was harassed and got a lot of verbal abuse from my class ‘mates’ and other people in my class.
People used to call me a freak and pick on me. It was horrible. People didn’t like me because I was different. Even when I got home, the harassment continued on social media. People bothered me during class and sent nasty comments. They used to throw things at me - it was awful. I was bullied and singled out due to my disability.
I felt alone and unsupported
I didn’t report it to the police – I didn’t think they would do anything. I got support from Building Bridges in Monmouthshire, and they helped me. The reason I didn’t know I would get support was that when I reported it to my college tutor; she did nothing about it. She blamed me saying I was agitating them as much as they were me – which was not true. She wasn’t on my side. She mistreated me.
I was alone and unsupported throughout all this harassment and bullying. My grades suffered, and I began to do badly in college. I was so exhausted by it all and had no one to talk to.
We need to start talking about disability hate crime more
In my case, I think it would have helped if there was training for school pupils at an early age about disability hate crime and disability awareness. When I was in lower school, we had some training about racism and driving down racist behaviour. It seemed to help at my school and help change behaviours.
The behaviour I suffered during college was unacceptable, it could have been stopped or improved if there was a serious code of conduct, and students saw the repercussions of their actions.
Organisations should have mandatory disability awareness training. We can make things better with training and education.
Disability hate crime needs to be taken seriously
Unfortunately, I have continued to experience hate crime since leaving education. Even from people I thought were friends. During a holiday, I experienced ridicule, harassment, theft and even physical violence.
It completely ruined my trip to the point I just wanted to go home early. But the abuse continued when I got home. I faced a tirade of hate speech on social media. The words were hurtful and personal. I had to block the person and reported it to the platform.
People need to realise the impact of their words and their actions. Disability hate crime must be taken seriously.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of hate crime and would like to share their story, please get in touch with Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need support with an ongoing hate crime, please contact Victim Support Wales at: email@example.com.