nr intv bullies ebola bronx boys_00012805.jpg
Dad claims sons bullied over Ebola fear
03:13 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Two boys just returned from Senegal were beaten at a Bronx public school, their father says

The father said the attackers yelled "Ebola" at his sons

NYC schools chancellor said her office will investigate

CNN poll: 81% think somebody in U.S. will be infected with Ebola soon

CNN  — 

Fears over Ebola have made the jump from pundits to the playground.

On Friday, a group of students attacked two of their peers at I.S. 318 in the Bronx while yelling “Ebola” at the brothers who had recently returned from Senegal, the boys’ father told CNN Newsroom Tuesday.

The New York Department of Education confirms the incident occurred, saying the boys were pushed and shoved.

Ousmane Drame, the boys’ father, said the boys felt so upset by their experience that they want to go back to Africa.

Ebola outbreak: Get up to speed

“They were made fun of by the children (who) started yelling, ‘Ebola. Ebola. Ebola. Africa. Africa,” Drame said his sons told him.

Charles Cooper of the African Advisory Council, a local advocacy group, said that during lunch, one of the boys was jumped by the students who had been calling him “Ebola.” When his older brother intervened, the brother also was assaulted.

Drame said classmates refused to play with his sons in gym.

“We’re done playing with you. You have Ebola,” he said one of the bullies told his sons. “You sit down. … They don’t want to play with them. Nobody is close to them.”

“We will not tolerate intimidation or bullying of our students,” NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said in a statement, “especially in this moment when New Yorkers need to come together.”

Who shouts ‘Ebola’?

‘The stigmatization of Ebola

Farina added that her office is investigating and that they’ve sent staff to “mediate the incident.”

Cooper said these young children are bearing “the stigmatization of Ebola and something needs to be done.”

The boys, according to the their father, were born in the United States. Senegal, the country they returned from, has had only one case of Ebola. On October 17, the World Health Organization declared that nation free of Ebola.

“They want to go to school,” their father said. “I need to find a new school.”

But perception isn’t always fueled by fact.

In the first week of October, the CDC received 800 calls from Americans concerned about Ebola.

When a doctor in Manhattan became that New York City’s first Ebola patient, everything he’d touched since he returned from Guinea came under scrutiny. A bowling alley he visited underwent decontamination as headlines asked whether Ebola could be transmitted via a bowling ball.

Poll on Ebola attitudes

According to a new CNN poll, 81% of Americans polled think it’s likely someone in the United States will be infected with Ebola in the next few weeks.

But only about a quarter think that will happen in their community. A slight majority approve of the federal government’s handling of the disease and fully 71% are confident the feds can prevent a nationwide outbreak.

But the poll did show that three in 10 would like noncitizens traveling from West Africa to be prevented from entering, even in absence of any symptoms.

“We cannot allow the Ebola epidemic to stigmatize a single population,” said U.S. Rep Jose Serrano of New York.

The congressman, who represents the part of the Bronx where the two boys were attacked, said in a statement: “Ebola is not a West African problem, or even an African problem, it is a global health concern. Instead of feeding into the fear and discriminating against others, we need to come together in solidarity as we grapple with this terrible disease.”

Or as Cooper with African Advisory Council put it to News 12: “We don’t want to see any of our children being bullied in any school. They are there to learn and they’re there to be kids.”

CNN’s Sho Wills contributed to this report.