When Jessica Gellatly posted a photo of her baby brother online in memory of his short life, she was horrified by the responses she received.
The 13-year-old Scottish girl watched in disgust as internet trolls sent a series of hateful comments about her brother who was born with disabilities, the Evening Telegraph reports.
Now their mother, Jennifer Gellatly, 32, of Dundee, Scotland, is speaking out about the value of children with disabilities and the abuse families experience from trolls on the internet.
“I was aware of trolls before this happened to Jessica. You could never imagine some of the disgusting things that people post,” she said.
Gellatly’s son Jayden suffered from fluid on the brain and other health problems, including physical deformities. He died of an endocarditis infection shortly before his second birthday in 2016, according to the report.
His 13-year-old sister recently posted a photo of him on her Instagram page in memory of Jayden’s life. Shortly afterward, she began to receive hateful and discriminatory comments about her brother’s appearance.
“One advised my daughter that we should have gone to Planned Parenthood,” Jennifer Gellatly said. “The person went on to imply I should have had an abortion. Given the reference to Planned Parenthood, I immediately thought it had come from America.”
Gellatly said she allows her daughter to use Instagram but monitors her use of it, and she encouraged other parents to do the same.
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“It has been extremely upsetting for Jessica and the whole family,” the concerned mother continued. “She has made her profile private and blocked people but why on earth would you mock anyone with a disability? … I urge parents to check their children’s accounts or at least ask them more about their accounts.”
Jayden loved to smile and brought joy to their whole family, his mother said. Almost two years after he died, Jennifer said they still talk about him every day.
“We’ve always found it a comfort to post pictures in Jayden’s memory and to see people having cheap laughs at someone else’s tragedy is just vile,” she said.
Families across the globe have reported experiencing hateful discrimination against members of their family who have disabilities. This discrimination begins even before birth: Many parents have said they felt pressured to abort their unborn babies because of a disability diagnosis. And tragically, this deadly form of discrimination is accepted by many, while other forms are condemned.
Fortunately, more families like the Gellatlys are speaking out and demanding that their children be treated with the respect that they deserve.