Mum’s horror as autistic son, 14, ‘manhandled out of Meadowhall’ for not wearing a mask

The mum of an autistic teenager said her son was ‘frogmarched’ out of Meadowhall recently and ‘manhandled’ by security staff for not wearing a mask.

By Lizzie Day
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 2:26 pm

The mum posted a furious message on Facebook, after she claims her 14-year-old son was removed from the shopping centre by three workers for not having a face covering on.

Face coverings became mandatory in shops and other enclosed public spaces on July 24, unless you are aged 11 or under or you have a health condition that prevents you from wearing one.

She said: "My 14yr old son was manhandled and frogmarched out of Meadowhall for not wearing a mask/face covering.

Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield.

"Three security guards intervened in his removal.

"He is autistic and trust me we’ve tried, he hates the feel of a mask on his face and with his disability it makes him exempt from wearing one anyway.

"At no point did they ever ask why he wasn’t wearing one.

"He was told to put one on or he would be removed.

"They said he was being defiant!”

Pictures posted by the mum on social media appear to show scratches on her son’s arm after he was escorted off the site.

Meadowhall said a team reviewed CCTV footage of the incident which they claim shows her son refusing to follow guidance on several occasions and were not made aware of his health condition.

The shopping centre expressed how removing the teenager from the building was a last resort decision.

The 14-year-old’s mother shared how ‘embarrassed’ and ‘distraught’ her son felt after his shopping and cinema trip with his friends turned into a direct confrontation with security staff.

She wrote: “He was embarrassed and was being harassed, something which he’s never experienced anywhere else since the ruling on face coverings came into effect.

"He’d only gone with a few mates to look in the typical designer shops and then catch a film after.

"He FaceTimed me distraught at what had just happened to him.

"He doesn’t like me talking about his disability as he wants to feel normal and fit in the best way he can.

"Obviously he won’t be able to tolerate things the same as some kids but we try our best.

"He agreed to me writing this post as he doesn’t want it to happen to anyone else.

"The fact that they are questioning people as to why they don’t have a mask is one thing but to harm, shame and humiliate a child is a completely different matter.”

A spokesperson for Meadowhall said: “We are asking all visitors to help keep Meadowhall as safe as possible for everyone by following the Covid-secure measures and guidance we have in place.

"We are of course respectful of the fact that some people are less able to wear face coverings, for reasons that may not be visible to others.

“On this particular occasion, the team were not made aware of the customer’s exemptions.”

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