ASAN Condemns Media Coverage of the Attempted Murder of Issy Stapleton

Issy Stapleton and two other teen girls smiling

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network issued a statement on Monday, October 14th, expressing dismay at the media coverage of the attempted murder of Issy Stapleton, age 14.

Both local and national media coverage of Issy’s attempted murder have emphasized her mother’s alleged stress, the “burden” of Issy’s disability, and the insufficient state of autism services today (although Issy had returned home from an intensive 6-month residential placement less than 72 hours previously.) Rather than rallying with sympathy and support for the child victim of attempted filicide, media coverage has consistently attempted to excuse and justify her murderer and paint the person who tried to kill her–her own mother–as the “real” victim.

This is abhorrent.

The facts are these: every child deserves the right to grow up free from violence and abuse. When a parent attempts to murder their child, they violate that basic social contract. Kelli Stapleton tried to murder her daughter. We do not accept any excuses for the murders of nondisabled children; disabled children deserve this same basic social protection. When someone tries to kill us, the crime is not that we had the audacity to be disabled–it is that we were murdered by the people we trusted and relied on most.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network forcefully denounces the shameful approach the media has taken in wake of this tragedy, and send our support and sympathy to Issy. We wish her well, and above all, we tell her: what your mother did was not okay, and it wasn’t your fault.

We call on media everywhere to do right by Issy: address the appalling double standard in coverage. Report responsibly on a story with profound and unsettling social implications. Tell the story of the victim.

Stand with Issy.