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Editor's Viewpoint

Pupils should meet with Down's peers

Editor's Viewpoint


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

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

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

A Newtownards school has acted promptly and correctly in suspending three pupils whose video mocking people with Down's syndrome has gone viral. The posting has been described as vile and disgusting and parodies a video made by young people with the condition.

The schoolchildren involved aged 14 or 15 will not be the first to have made a stupid mistake although the fact that they took the trouble to make a video shows a degree of planning and cannot be simply dismissed as a spur of the moment jibe.

Yet it can be argued that they do not have enough life experience to realise the hurt that their action caused not only to the young people they mocked and their families but all those who have the condition within their family.

While there has been widespread online condemnation of the pupils' actions it has given an opportunity to many to show the contribution people with Down's can make to society and the fruitful lives they lead.

In this newspaper today we have three shining examples of the extraordinary achievements of three young people with Down's - one who has won two international acting awards, another who is a star of the catwalk and a third who is a wonderful baker raising more than £1,000 a month.

Of course not all people with Down's will reach such heights - just as not all young people become huge successes in life - but like everyone else they are deserving of respect and understanding, something that is often not forthcoming even from those who should know better and don't have the excuse of youthful ignorance to fall back on.

This has led to the emergence of a pressure group Don't Screen Us Out which is seeking to have changes made to the abortion law in Britain to limit termination at 24 weeks for all non-fatal disabilities. It has been reported that mothers are frequently urged to take advantage of the law to abort babies with Down's right up 40 weeks.

And there are concerns that the abortion law which will be introduced in Northern Ireland on March 1 - it is currently out to consultation - may include similar provision.

Mocking anyone who looks or acts differently from the accepted norm in society cannot be tolerated and it may do the pupils involved in this case much good to meet peers with Down's syndrome and their families to enable them to recognise the hurt they have caused.

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