A 14-year-old student with Asperger syndrome says he was physically attacked for being Jewish following a history class on World War II’s Holocaust.
Matthew Lough told his mother Sharon that bullies set upon him. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, his mother said Matthew had revealed during the history lesson that his maternal great-great-grandmother was Jewish.
She said, “It started last year with the swastikas drawn on his books, he was called ‘Jew boy’ and one fellow pupil even told Matthew: ‘It’s a pity that the gas chambers were not still open so we could deal with you.’ This was before the physical assault.”
Carrickfergus College, whose motto is “Developing and Empowering Young People for Life”, is a secondary school on the outskirts of the town of Carrickfergus, County Antrim.
The harassment against Matthew allegedly continued until Easter this year.
Sharon said, “Because Matthew had reported the verbal abuse and the bullying, one boy took exception to this and during an attack on my son he kicked him in the head. Matthew later came home and started to complain of headaches. By this stage there was the lump the size of an egg on his head and my husband got very worried. When we eventually got Matthew checked out in A&E we were told that he had concussion from the kick.”
Speaking to the BBC, Matthew said that the bullies had attached swastikas to his school bag and called him anti-Semitic names.
He said, “It kind of annoyed me and upset me but the real truck was when I was attacked in the woods during an orienteering exercise in PE. The guy was suspended for five days. This year, it was a guy who was singing a song about how Hitler had gassed 6.5 million Jews, all happy and do-lallies.”
The name-calling had continued, despite the suspension of two students, according to his mother.
She said, “We encourage Matthew to live, as much as he can. Aspergers does not change who he has ever been. We don’t want him to be considered as a special case. He is a very intelligent child and very loving and very caring about people around him.”
The BBC reported that these anti-Semitic attacks are now being investigated by the police. The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) said it had been assured by the school that they had fully and properly followed board regulations for regarding the suspension of pupils.