Teacher called after online comments about baby with Down syndrome
The mother said she spoke out to change the narrative around parenting children with Down syndrome. Photo / 123RF (posed by model)
Auckland school has distanced itself from comments from one of its teachers after the mother of a baby with Down syndrome went public with what she calls a ‘capable’ attack on families living with the disease.
The school said it was investigating after a member of its staff wrote that he would have ‘killed’ the child if he had been in the same position.
The teacher left the comment on a TikTok video posted by the young mother, where she talked about treating her son like any other child.
“Brave. If my test came back with this I would have killed him,” the teacher wrote.
“If I was, I would want mom to do the same.”
The mother-of-one told the Herald she was disappointed by the comment, which she called “very hurtful”.
She said she had seen similar sentiments expressed by “little teenagers” but was surprised to see it came from an older woman – and a teacher.
The Herald saw messages between the two women, posted on a public page, where the teacher says her message was misinterpreted.
“You took my message the wrong way. I said you were brave and meant it. I couldn’t do it! I took the test during my pregnancy and discussed the options. I couldn’t do it and i think you are brave. , ” she wrote.
This explanation was not accepted by the young mum, who replied: “I think you’re just crazy for calling out your disgusting behavior. I never asked for your unsolicited ableist comment.”
Yesterday the headmaster of the school posted a message to parents addressing the controversy.
“I would like to contact the families to confirm that we are aware of the post which is
are currently circulating online,” the post read.
“The Board and I wish to affirm that this does not reflect the position of our school
where we celebrate diversity, difference and inclusion.
“As you will understand, we cannot comment on any specific employee, but we can say that we have robust processes for dealing with concerns.”
A police spokesperson told the Herald that police were aware of a complaint that had been lodged, but said no criminal offenses had been disclosed and therefore “no further action will be taken on the moment”.
“For privacy reasons, we will not be making any further comments,” the spokesperson added.
In an interview with the Herald, the young mother who first spoke out said she was driven by a desire to change the narrative around raising a child with Down syndrome.
The mother said she had already responded to the negative comments directly on social media, but the teacher’s words were a tipping point that prompted her to take action, saying people must be held accountable or else attitudes would not change.
She told the Herald that even calling the decision to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome “brave” had a “hidden agenda”.
“Imagine if I went to all the mothers and said ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you kept the baby, you’re so brave’.
“I had the nine month old baby inside of me, why are you so shocked that I kept it?”
She said most people are “more than capable” of raising a child with the condition, but society at large has sent the message that having a baby with Down syndrome is too difficult.
“I wish the medical industry would stop trying to scare parents away,” she said.
She said initial scans showed her child was at high risk of being born with the genetic condition, but she had to fight repeated attempts by medical professionals to have her undergo further invasive tests.
She said she had to fly from Gisborne to Auckland twice for further testing, but never changed her decision.
“Why does it matter? Because at the end of the day, it won’t change the fact that I’m going to get it.”
She said she changed GPs at 35 weeks pregnant and was shocked to be asked if she still had her baby.
“I think society has become so obsessed with perfection that people are embarrassed to have children with Down syndrome.”
She admitted that these children can have a lot of health issues, but these can be managed “with the right love and support”.
The mother grew up with a brother with Down syndrome and said schooling was key to their integration, which upset her for children being taught by a teacher who ‘doesn’t think my child deserves life’.
She said she had received backlash for her decision to expose the teacher, but spoke out to ensure parents of children with special needs at school were aware of what was happening. said to himself.
“She’s a teacher, she should have thought about what she said.”