PHOENIX — Three Ahwatukee teenagers are facing felony charges for allegedly bullying a boy with autism.
In November 2018, the teens decided to record video of the boy using the restroom and then started mocking his disabilities. The teenagers then shared the video on social media.
"I want to hold them accountable for their actions, but I want them to learn from their mistakes. I want them to grow from this," said Amanda Steele, the boy's mother.
"I don't want to ruin anyone's life. I want them to receive diversity training. I want them to have to volunteer their hours with children with disabilities so that they can see how amazing a person with disabilities truly is," Steele added.
The teenagers made an appearance in juvenile court on Tuesday. Because the teens are minors, no cameras were allowed in the courtroom and their names aren't being released. Steele said the kids pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to national statistics, every day 160,000 American kids stay home from school due to bullying.
Joronda Montano is with the non-profit "NotMYKid" which raises awareness of bullying and its ramifications.
"There shouldn't be cameras ever in a bathroom without someone's knowledge and considering what happened with this young boy and then it was distributed to people who he didn't even know that is a severe invasion of privacy," said Montano.
Montano also said she has seen a rise in the number of teens facing disciplinary action for breaking the law with their cell phone use.
"I think that as students move from middle school to high school they need to understand that your level of responsibility increases and accountability will increase, and more people will be watching you and expecting you to do the right thing. Yes, there should be some natural consequences if you do something that is infringing on someone else’s rights," said Montano.