This story originally appeared on theifp.ca on May 8, 2019. After the story was published several community groups reached out to show their support for Best-Degeer.
A Georgetown family has lost their freedom, after an incident involving the bullying of their son.
“I try not to think about it,” said Wendy Best, mother of Dylan Best-Degeer. “If I start thinking about it, I get upset.”
On May 3, two youths lured her son, a 27-year-old man with special needs, to a dead-end street (McFarlane Drive) and pushed him into a large pond, along with his bike.
It’s unclear whether Best-Degeer was lured to the pond or followed the youths.
“The problem is that he’s the most vulnerable person,” Best said. “They could make him do anything.”
A few weeks prior, Best-Degeer returned home wet and covered in mud, and Best said she suspected the same thing had happened.
Now, Best-Degeer isn’t able to ride his bike around the neighbourhood without supervision.
“He’s stuck here, and that’s horrid,” Best said.
Before, Best-Degeer would ride his bike around the neighbourhood for hours, occasionally coming home to check in before heading back out.
“Dylan’s freedom has been taken away,” Best said. “It’s driving him batty.”
The family moved to Georgetown 18 years ago, and Best said they chose this neighbourhood specifically for its safety. Her sister lives at the top of the street, and the family keeps an eye out for her son when he’s riding around the neighbourhood on his bike or his scooter.
“You only have to meet him once to know who he is,” Best said.
When he was 20, Best-Degeer graduated from Georgetown District High School, and he now attends a day program at Community Living.
“We take him to the program in the morning, and he’d be home before his sister in the afternoon, for a couple of hours,” Best said.
Outside of the day program, Best-Degeer is very involved with Special Olympics, participating in a wide range of activities, from bowling to hockey.
“He’ll trust everybody for the rest of his life,” Best said. “He’s a good soul.”
Best said her son wants to be everyone’s friend.
“He’s like a kid in a grown man’s body,” Best said. “He just loves life.”
Halton police confirmed an investigation took place, but details could not be provided due to the ages of those involved. No charges were laid.
“It is an extremely unfortunate situation when anyone is the victim of bullying,” said Const. Steve Elms, who is with the Halton Regional Police Service. “It is even more saddening to hear of situations where ‘bullies’ prey on vulnerable persons in our schools and community. The schools and police have gone to great lengths, over the past several years, to shed light on the negative effects of bullying and to attempt to put a stop to it.”
Although no charges were laid, Elms said anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 may be charged with an offence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
For now, Best-Degeer isn’t able to ride his bike, but Best said she’s purchased a GPS tracker for her son, which will make it easier to keep an eye on where he’s going.
“Unless I quit my job, he has no freedom,” Best said. “We have no freedom.”