The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has stepped in after a video of a family torturing a 12-year-old boy went viral. The boy’s mother filmed the abuse and broadcast it on Instagram Live.
The boy, identified only as “Tyler,” has been removed from the home after he was beaten by adults and had the word “GAY” shaved into the side of his head.
Footage of the attack was captured from the broadcast and reuploaded. The video shows the young man being repeatedly smacked and demeaned by adults.
Atlanta city council candidate Devin Barrington-Ward said he saw himself in the video and felt compelled to reach out to the boy and his family. The incident happened in the area he would represent if elected.
“As a Black queer man, I have experienced some of the same homophobia and some of the same abuse by the hands of people that I love as a child,” he told FOX 11. “If you saw that and you didn’t see anything wrong with that, you’re part of the problem.”
He went to talk to the boy’s mother “about what had took place, about some of the challenges that she’s had as a single mother of eight and about some of the challenges raising a young Black queer child in poverty.”
But Barrington-Ward also pointed out some of the complexities behind abuse cases. The boy is relieved to be getting help, the candidate pointed out, but also severely anxious. Not only has Tyler been abused, pulling him out of the situation causes other stresses since he’s being removed from his home.
“He expressed appreciation for the support but also made it clear that he wasn’t happy with what happened to him,” Barrington-Ward said.
“What I told him on the patio at his home is that you’re loved, we care for you, we got your back,” he said. “I apologized because we didn’t create enough safe spaces to prevent this from happening.”
He said he went to visit Tyler “so that he could see a version of himself in the future; so that, that it does get better and that it’s important to fight for your survival because there is a future for you.”