The 11- and- 13-year-old victims, in sixth and eighth grade, respectively, were beaten and verbally abused by other students at lunchtime in the schoolyard at Intermediate School 318 in the Tremont section of the Bronx in New York City, the African Advisory Council says, according to the news station.
The father, Ousame Drame (pictured right with sons), said his sons were ostracized and treated like cancers in the weeks leading up to the attack. The harassment began just days after news broke that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the United States. He said students began whispering “Ebola” in the presence of his sons and some bullies ordered other students not to talk to the boys, who only speak French, he told the news station.
“If they go to the gym, they don’t want them touching the ball – ‘Oh, you have Ebola, don’t play with us,'” Drame said.
Though the children were raised in Senegal, they were born in America — and have every right to be here, their father said.
While Senegal is one of several West African countries where Ebola cases have been reported, The World Health Organization recently declared it Ebola-free, after the nation was able to contain the one case that entered their country.
Drame, who says school administrators should have stepped in weeks ago, says he is not angry with the students. He plans to allow his sons to return to the school, he telling the station.”They don’t know nothing. They’re babies,” he said of his son’s attackers.
But advocates are calling the attack “unacceptable” and asking why school administrators failed to intervene, according to NBC 4.
“Where was the school administrators, where was the school staff when all of this was happening?” asked Charles Cooper of the African Advisory Council.
The Department of Education has dispatched extra security for the students and has instructed staff to be on alert for other instances of bullying and discrimination.
“We will not tolerate intimidation or bullying of our students, especially in this moment when New Yorkers need to come together,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said in a statement.