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Threats against Regent House pupils over 'repulsive' video mocking Down's syndrome

Police also investigating video content

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Three students mimicked the original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

Three students mimicked the original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

The original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

The original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

Three students mimicked the original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

Threats have been made against Northern Ireland grammar school children involved in a "repulsive and vile" video of them mocking people with Down's syndrome.

The PSNI said it would "not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this".

However, a police spokesman did confirm they were aware of the video on social media and were working to establish if an offence had been committed.

Three pupils were suspended from Regent House in Newtownards after the video went viral across the internet.

The action was taken against the year 11 students after they re-enacted the opening scene of a National Lottery advert celebrating 25 years of supporting good causes.

It features singing by three people living with the genetic disorder, which is associated with physical growth delays and characteristic facial features.

The shocking video was originally uploaded to social networking app TikTok by one of the two females who recorded themselves gleefully mocking those with Down's syndrome while proudly wearing their school uniforms.

This is a repulsive and vile trend that needs stopping in its tracks right now. Mother

The account it was posted on had been deleted but later reappeared.

However, it is now being shared online by furious parents around the UK to highlight the new and disturbing trend and has been viewed by almost 100,000 people since the weekend.

A schoolboy, aged between 14 and 15 in the video, also makes offensive face and hand gestures in the short clip, which has been branded "disgusting" by thousands of irate social media users.

"This is a repulsive and vile trend that needs stopping in its tracks right now," one mother seeking to alert other parents wrote on Facebook.

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The original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

The original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

The original advert featuring people with Down’s syndrome

A spokesperson for the school confirmed it has taken "all necessary and appropriate action" in relation to the incident, but refused to go into detail citing concerns over child welfare.

However, the woman who has shared the video said those responsible need to be held to account for the "new low" as she asked: "How many lives will suffer at their hands?"

Children from other schools have shared videos in which they drool water from their mouths, imitate "the autistic kid" sitting a math test and use filters to distort their faces.

The song 3 is a Magic Number - which features in the lottery advert - is used as the soundtrack in each of the disparaging videos.

A number of horrified parents of pupils who attend Regent House Grammar School said they've been assured that those behind the "hurtful" and "malicious" act have been suspended.

"It's clear they knew what they were doing and it's disgraceful," one mum said.

"But parents need to learn not to allow their children to have free reign on social media.

"I'd be absolutely furious and completely affronted if it was my child in the video.

"The pupils need to apologise or do something to make amends - it's not enough just to be suspended."

A spokesperson for the Down's Syndrome Association branded the video as inexcusable.

"It is never acceptable to mock or troll anyone, for any reason," they said.

However, the representative from the charity - which has been supporting adults and children from Northern Ireland affected by the condition for 50 years - called on social media companies to take more responsibility for inappropriate content.

"Social media has done lots to raise the profile of people with Down's syndrome, with the original National Lottery video a great example of inclusion and diversity," they added.

"People with Down's syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, and make a valuable contribution to our society."

We want our pupils to value everyone equally Regent House Grammar School

A spokesperson for the Regent House Grammar School insisted it is taking the matter "very seriously".

"We encourage respect for everyone," they said.

"We want our pupils to value everyone equally and encourage them to do this through our work in classrooms, our extracurricular programmes and through our carefully considered pastoral care provision," the school spokesperson added.

The Department of Education said it has been made been made aware of the shocking incident but is unable to comment on individual cases.

However a spokesperson for the department was keen to point out that "bullying of any form has no place in our schools".

"All schools are required to have a discipline policy which should outline the behaviour it expects from pupils and the sanctions it will impose in relation to breaches of discipline," they added.

"Legal responsibility for school discipline, including suspensions, is a matter for the school principal and board of governors to ensure that any necessary actions are taken in line with their school's policy and the relevant suspension and expulsion scheme."

A Camelot spokesperson said: "We are aware of the appalling and deeply offensive videos circulating on TikTok - and are working with our agency and TikTok to get all of the offending content removed as quickly as possible."

Belfast Telegraph