Sometimes push comes to shove, and you have to stand up for what’s right. That’s what six-year-old Carter thought when he went to stand up for his friend who was being bullied near Carter’s home in Olympia, Washington.
Carter has autism, and he was bothered when he saw a group of six or seven children around his age begin to bully one of his friends. He told a local news station that he didn’t stop to weigh the pros and cons of intervening. “They were just bullying him, like beating him up,” Carter said, “I just told them to stop… and then they did it to me.”
The children turned on Carter and attacked him. His mom, Dana English, came home to check on Carter from where she works nearby, and found her son beaten and bloodied. She rushed him to the hospital.
According to Carter, the other kids hit him with sticks, threw rocks at him, and rubbed sawdust in his eyes. He arrived at the hospital with a broken arm, a lacerated eye, a concussion, and a host of cuts and bruises. At one point, doctors thought Carter might lose his left eye, but a surgery to save his eye was successful.
The Olympia police have identified a five-year-old boy they think may have instigated the violence, and they plan to involve social services in the investigation. Because of the young age of those involved, there will not be criminal charges.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page to help Dana cover the cost of medical bills and gas to and from the hospital. The page set a goal of $5,500, but the outpouring of love and support for Carter was so strong that the page raised over $45,000 before Dana asked that the page be shut down—she was so appreciative of the help she and Carter were receiving, but the money and attention had become overwhelming.
Dana was worried, as any mother would be, about her little boy. She was worried about the eye surgery that Carter would need. She was worried about the medical bills. She was angry at the kids in her neighborhood who hurt her son.
But just a few days after Carter was attacked, she posted this on her Facebook page:
“I am truly at a loss for words right now. In this horrific situation when I have felt so lost and so alone so many people have come together from all over the world to help my little guy. I dont think I have any tears left to cry. But i want to thank each and every single person who has shared commented or prayed. Anything at all. Even just a thought of my boy makes my heart over flow with so much hope and love.”
Now, as Carter recovers from multiple surgeries and gets ready to go back to school, Dana says she wants people to know that bullying is not okay under any circumstances. She said that the money she and Carter received from the GoFundMe campaign was “literally life changing for us” and that after medical bills and setting up a trust for Carter, she hopes to use any excess to bring raise awareness about the dangers of bullying.
As for Carter, he’s slowly recovering with the help of encouragement from new-found friends and a chocolate milkshake or two. His road to recovery will be more difficult than the six-year-old deserves, but we already know that he’s not afraid to stand up for what’s right. Stay strong, Carter!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.