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School bus aide appears to hit child with autism in shocking video

The parents of an elementary school student with autism say they have obtained a video allegedly showing a school bus aide hitting their daughter across the face.

>> Watch the news report here

“My blood boils,” the girl’s father, Nicholas Rushing, of New Lenox, Illinois, told WLS-TV. “I think about it, and it just makes me mad. She shouldn’t have to go through that.”

Rushing obtained the video which appears to show his 6-year-old daughter being hit across the face twice.

The girl’s parents said they found out about the incident when the superintendent of New Lenox School District 122 called them and showed them the video earlier this week.

“It just makes me want to cry, to be honest with you,” the girl’s mother, Madeline Norley, told the station. “As a mom, just seeing that, it’s disgusting.”

The couple said that because of their daughter’s autism, she is unable to speak in a way that would allow her to tell her parents that she had been hit.

>> Read more trending news

No charges have been filed.

The district’s superintendent emphasized Friday that the bus aide is not a district employee. She said the aide works for the district’s bus contractor, Lincoln Way Special Education District 843 in Frankfort.

“I cannot provide a specific comment at this time. There is an ongoing investigation of an incident that allegedly occurred on a student school bus,” said Sarah Rexroad, 843’s executive director.

The girl’s parents said all they ask is for bus aides to be properly trained to handle these types of situations.

“When she’s having that meltdown, she needs that space and be able to mellow it out herself. And she does it,” Rushing said.

Teacher fired after shocking photo shows her dragging student

A picture of a teacher in Ohio dragging a child down a school hallway has resulted in that teacher losing her job.

>> Watch the news report here

The teacher has not been identified. She worked with Youngstown children as an Alta Care Group employee, WKBN reported.

“We’ve been interviewing people and investigating and trying to find out what happened and that ... it’s still in its infancy,” Youngstown City School District spokeswoman Denise Dick told WKBN. “They are still talking to people. We haven’t talked to everyone that we want to talk to yet.”

>> See the photo here

“The Youngstown City School District presented the photo to us,” Alta CEO Joe Shorokey told the New York Daily News. Alta Care Group provides Head Start programming to classrooms in Youngstown and Mahoning County, where the incident took place, according to the newspaper.

Shorokey said she was “immediately terminated” after she “mishandled” the student.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement, Shorokey said, “The behavior of that teacher was inexcusable and will never be tolerated. I want to make sure it is clear that the individual who was terminated does not reflect the values of the dedicated and skilled professionals at Alta Head Start. These fine teachers and aides should not be unfairly portrayed as anything less because of the person who was terminated.”

>> Watch another news report here

Mom thanks flight attendant who helped soothe fussy baby during flight

A mother is thanking a flight attendant for helping to soothe her 4-month-old baby when “all hell broke loose” on a flight.

>> Watch the news report here

Whitney Poyntz was traveling with her husband and daughter to Calgary, Alberta, from Palm Springs, California, on the WestJet airline. Everything was going smoothly until her daughter, Kennedi, started to cry.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“Once the captain came on the intercom it woke her up, which is obviously no one’s fault,” Poyntz wrote on WestJet’s Facebook page. “About 30 minutes later, all hell broke loose.”

>> Read more trending news

Poyntz said her fellow passengers were clearly not happy.

A flight attendant named Ashley approached her and offered to help. She walked baby Kennedi up and down the aisle until she stopped crying.

“I was amazed someone wanted to help like that,” Poyntz told ABC News.

Jimmy Kimmel, Molly McNearney share photos of son after heart surgery news

After Jimmy Kimmel revealed on the Monday night episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that his newborn son had recently undergone open heart surgery, his wife Molly McNearney took to social media to share a sweet photo of the father and son.

>> Former President Obama responds to Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue about newborn son

“I am thankful to love and be loved by these two brave guys,” she captioned the picture of Kimmel and son Billy, who was born on April 21, smiling at each other. “Both criers.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

>> See the photo here

>> Read more trending news

During an emotional monologue this week, Kimmel told viewers that three hours after Billy was born, doctors noticed he had a heart murmur and was turning purple, leading them to discover that his pulmonary valve was blocked and that he had a hole in the wall of his heart. Doctors then performed open heart surgery on the infant, which according to the late-night host, “was a success.”

>> What is tetralogy of Fallot – the disorder Jimmy Kimmel's son has?

On Tuesday, Kimmel thanked fans via Twitter, sharing a picture of McNearey, Billy and daughter Jane, 2.

>> Jimmy Kimmel breaks down reliving story of newborn son’s heart surgery

“Sincere thanks for the outpouring of love & support,” he wrote. “Dr. Jane is keeping a close ear on Billy, who is very well – XO.”

>> See the photo here

Are your kids safe? Predators reaching children through online games

MaryBeth Reeves is used to a lot of chatting. The Georgia mother of quadruplet 10-year-old daughters says it’s rarely quiet in their home. What she wasn’t used to were the chats taking place while her girls played games online.

>> Watch the news report here

Her girls use Roblox, a multiplayer game site that allows players to communicate with each other.

“There’s a bunch of different people that can be on a game and then there’s, like, this chat that you can type in what you want to say. Then you can communicate with other people, say if you’re on a team,” 10-year-old Hannah Reeves explained.

Not long ago, a few players stopped talking about the game and began asking the girls questions about themselves.

“He said, ‘You’re cute,’ and I said, ‘Ew, gross!’” Gwendolyn Reeves said.

Her sister, Isabella, said someone asked her if she’d like to go out on a date.

Reeves said she was unaware that was possible. She and her husband monitor their girls’ online activity closely. They have controls on each laptop and tablet that turn them on and off and allow them to track what sites the kids visit.

ON WSBTV.com:

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“When the first girl told me someone asked her out on a date I thought she was making it up,” Reeves said. “There was a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach.”

She immediately had a conversation with her girls.

“We just have to try to educate them as much as possible. Keeping them in the dark is not going to help them,” Reeves told WSB-TV’s Dave Huddleston.

Sky Valley Police Chief Vaughn Estes told WSB-TV that is the exact right approach for parents to take. Estes worked for the GBI in its high technology investigative unit and says pedophiles prey on children using subtle techniques to gain their confidence and lure them in.

“We’ve worked cases where people have talked children into doing things in front of their webcams that the parents walk into the room and they are horrified when they discover,” Estes said.

He also says active parenting should be the first line of defense to protect your child.

“Know what your children are doing. Know what they are on. If they are in that room with that computer, you don't know who is on the other side of that computer,” Estes said. “If their phone has a password on it and you, the parent, does not know it, then you need to get the phone away from them because there is nothing on there that a 14-year-old should not be able to show you.”

>> Read more trending news

He says when parents are aware and kids speak up, it makes investigating this type of behavior easier.

WSB-TV’s Huddleston also spoke with Eliza Harrell, a director with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Harrell says that while knowing what your kids are doing online is important, they also need to understand online gaming safety features.

“Most companies are more than willing to help,” Harrell said.

Roblox, the site the Reeves girls use, filters out offensive language and allows parents to choose who their children chat with or to turn chat off altogether. They also allow kids to report abuse and block players that ask offensive questions.

The company told WSB-TV that every abuse report is investigated and players can be banned from the site.

All three girls in the Reeves house who were approached blocked the player asking the questions, and one of them was able to report the activity before the player left the game.

Reeves says she’s thankful they spoke up and wants other parents to be prepared.

“Anything I can do to let other parents know that that happens,” she said.

WSB-TV's Huddleston was joined by DeKalb County Police, Common Sense Media and Roblox for a LIVE Q&A with the experts about how to protect your children online.

>> Click here to watch

 

Facebook accused of helping advertisers target 'insecure' teens

Facebook is doing damage control after a new report suggests the company helped advertisers target teens based on their emotional state.

A 23-page leaked report from an Australian newspaper included a presentation to a bank that showed Facebook's ability to identify when young users are feeling especially insecure, stressed, anxious or overwhelmed and outlined “moments when young people need a confidence boost,” the paper reported.

>> RELATED: ‘10 concerts’ Facebook meme may reveal answer to security questions, professor says 

“Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend. Monday to Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements,” authors of the report wrote.

According to Forbes, parts of the document written by Facebook employees Andy Sinn and David Fernandez focused on body image and weight loss and how image-recognition tools are used on Instagram and Facebook.

>> Read more trending news

The Australian paper argued the world’s biggest social network is collecting “psychological insights” on teens based on internal Facebook data.

In response to the criticism, Facebook said it does not target anyone based on their emotional state and someone feeling depressed would not receive different ads compared to someone feeling happy.

>> On AJC.com: The more you use Facebook, the worse you feel, study says

“We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate,” Facebook told the paper.

Later, the company released a separate statement:

“On May 1, 2017, The Australian posted a story regarding research done by Facebook and subsequently shared with an advertiser. The premise of the article is misleading. Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state.

The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.

Facebook has an established process to review the research we perform. This research did not follow that process, and we are reviewing the details to correct the oversight.”

>> On Boston25News.com: AG: Companies can't target ads to women in abortion clinics

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water for targeting users.

In 2014, according to MarketWatch, Facebook targeted nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge as part of a psychological experiment to determine if their emotional state changed based on how much positive or negative content they consumed on their news feeds.

Mom who lost son to opioid overdose shares heartbreaking photo

A Calgary mother wants the world to see the destructiveness of drugs.

As her son lay dying in a hospital bed from an overdose of fentanyl, a man-made opioid, Sherri Kent climbed into the bed to comfort him and held his hand. Kent posted a photo of the emotional moment on Facebook in hopes of warning others to stay away from the deadly drug.

>> See the Facebook post here

Her son, Michael, was just 22 years old. 

“I just want everyone to know that my son Michael overdosed on fentanyl,” she wrote in the Facebook post. "My son was not an addict he made a mistake that cost him his life. I just want to make everyone aware of the epidemic that’s goin (sic) on right now. It’s out of control and there is no way to protect our children from this other than to warn them of the dangers of drug use today.

>> Read more trending news

“I’ve lost my son to this horrible tragedy and want to make parents aware that it can happen to anyone … Please share this with your family and friends to help prevent another tragedy.”

In an interview with the CBC, Kent said her son met a man who offered him heroin while he was in the town of Kelowna – about 240 miles east of Vancouver. He didn’t initially take the man’s offer; however, Kent said the man tracked her son down the next day.

She said the man and her son went into a store bathroom to use the drug.

“The other man got all sketched out and messed up and left my son in the washroom,” Kent told the CBC. “About 20 minutes later, he was too scared to go back and check on my son … so he ran for the people who own the store to unlock the door, and that’s when they found him.

“He was already blue in the lips. By the time the ambulance got there, he was in cardiac arrest.”

The young man was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on March 21 when the life-support apparatus was turned off.

>> Watch the news report here

Dad learns to walk again for his daughters' sake after doctors said he was paralyzed

Seven months after doctors told him he’d never be able to use his legs again, a man stood up and walked out of a rehabilitation center with his two young daughters at his side.

Cole Thomas, of Rochelle, Illinois, told “Today” that he shattered a vertebra in a September 2016 car crash.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I realized I was hurt very badly,” the 34-year-old father of two said. “I looked down at my legs, and I couldn’t feel them, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy.'”

He later learned he shattered his L2 vertebra and had pieces of it embedded in his spinal cord. Doctors told him he was paralyzed from the waist down.

>> Read more trending news

Determined to walk his young daughters down the aisle someday, Thomas posted a video to Facebook from his hospital bed.

“They told me I will never walk again. I’m bound and determined to prove them wrong,” he said in the video.

He asked people for help connecting him to resources to help him learn how to walk. A relative reached out with information about the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

He started therapy just eight days after the accident.

After months of hard work and determination, Thomas walked out of the rehabilitation center on Friday with his daughters by his side.

“I know I was going to have to give rehab and therapy 110 percent, just like I did my job. I have to walk again no matter what,” Thomas told “Today.” “I have to be the best I could be.”

Firefighters teach honest 5-year-old an important lesson in good karma

A fire department is teaching a 5-year-old boy that good things happen to people who do the right thing.

Earlier this year, Dave Starzec lost his wallet. He was finishing a trip to a Lowe's hardware store in Greer, S.C., when he set his alligator-skin wallet down on the bumper of his car. Inside the wallet was $2,000.

>> Watch the video here

“I was carrying my wallet so close to my heart, and I put it down for one second on my bumper to pick up a bale of mulch,” Starzec told ABC News. “I normally don’t leave things like that so important lying around.”

He didn’t realize his mistake until he got home. He immediately retraced his steps but had no luck.

“I had everything but my wife in my wallet,” Starzec told Greenville Online. “This wallet meant more to me than just the money.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

On his way home, he stopped by a fire station to make sure no one had turned in his lost wallet.

Capt. Benjamin Farmer took Starzec’s card and told him he would follow up if he found out any new information about his missing wallet.

“I was in the middle of cancelling my American Express when my phone rang, and it was the fire department,” said Starzec.

A family had found Starzec’s wallet in a parking lot. Farmer saw the family’s post in a local Facebook group and quickly connected the two.

>> Read more trending news

Miranda Clayton; her 5-year-old son, Dylan; and her mother-in-law, Peggy Lynn, found the wallet together.

Starzec was relieved to have the wallet back in his hands

To thank them for their honesty, Starzec organized a luncheon for the firefighters and the family.

The family received good citizen plaques. Starzec even gave them a $200 reward.

“They did the right thing, and we figured they needed an award for it,” he added. “We wanted to show the child, too, that if you’re going to be honest in the world, there’s good things that come to you.”

Missing Alabama teen found safe in Texas 16 months later

An Alabama teen who vanished without a trace two years ago after taking out the trash has been found.

Alissia Freeman, who was more than 1,000 miles away in El Paso, Texas, reached out to her mother, Vickie Metcalf, on a video call Monday after being out of contact with her family since she disappeared on Dec. 13, 2015. She was 17 at the time.

“Alissia told her parents she was going outside to take out the trash. A neighbor spotted her walking down the road, and then she vanished. She has not been seen or heard from since, and suddenly she reached out to her mom several days ago,” WSFA's Lindsey Rogers told KPRC.

That was 16 months ago.

>> Read more trending news

Metcalf saw her daughter in person for the first time in almost a year and a half Wednesday afternoon as the two reunited in Texas.

For a long time, Metcalf had been sharing posts like this one on Facebook:

The family, which had been targeted by scammers in the past, confirmed along with law enforcement that Freeman was safe.

“I have seen her,” Metcalf told AL.com. “I’m with her now and so happy. Of course.”

Although the mother couldn’t be happier, she said there are people out there sending her daughter "ugly messages."

Metcalf did not specify why her daughter ran away but said “she went through some things when she was younger.”

“She’s had a hard time with it and our communication wasn’t the best and she didn’t think I’d understand (my fault not hers) we are working on that now,” Metcalf wrote. “She is just trying to heal now.”

Speaking to KPRC, Freeman’s uncle, Calvin Thornton, said he and his wife, Theresa, have kept a candle light burning in their window in the hopes that it would help their niece find her way home.

“I’m very grateful for all the well wishes, people praying. We’ve had people come here and pray with us,” Calvin Thornton said. “All I care about is the fact that my niece has been found. She’s safe, she’s alive. Right now that’s the biggest focus and that’s the only thing we’re going to focus on. We’ll get the answers in time.”

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