On Tuesday, Melbourne 14-year-old Quinn Lahiff-Jenkins decided to stick up to “bullies” picking on one of his friends at school.
A short time later, the Northcote High School student, who has autism, was on the ground as a group of boys punched, kicked and hit him with large spanners.
The brutal attack was filmed and shared with news outlets and on Thursday a 15-year-old boy was arrested in relation to the assault.
On Thursday night, Quinn’s mother Carmen told The Project this incident was her and her husband’s worst nightmare.
"There is always one part of me as a parent of an autistic child that lives in fear that something like this will happen," she said.
Carmen said she's found it hard to process the attack, which involved the boys grabbing Quinn by his shirt and pulling him off his bike before pinning him to the ground.
"It is pretty devastating. It's also quite surreal. I have watched it a few times," she said.
"It's taken me a while to get my head around the different elements from that film. Where did they get giant spanners like that from? To when they took him over towards the road, that no-one in cars got out to help, no-one beeped their horn or called out from their car that we could see, so all of that is shocking."
Carmen also offered her suggestion as to why the attack was so vicious.
"I think Quinn antagonised the kids on social media, not realising how much this situation had escalated. Because of his autism, he was unable to recognise that the other boys were actually quite serious and they were becoming more and more annoyed and more and more potentially violent."
When speaking about how she expects the attack will affect her son she said he was simply "astounded".
"For Quinn, we don't have a life of violence, we don't let him watch violent things on TV, we don't watch the news, we limit those things from our home.
"I suspect that's going to be the thing that plays on him for a long time, that absolute shock that somebody would hurt you like that deliberately attack you like that."
Quinn himself told The Project he only went to meet the boys when they threatened to "sexually assault" his mother. He said after they beat him up they yelled "homophobic slurs"
"And it sort of got to me, like. I started thinking bad thoughts at that time and it was disgusting, like. It's very distressing for me."
Northcote High School reported the attack to police, who are continuing to investigate the matter following the arrest of one boy suspected to be involved.
Carmen said she was "devastated" for the bullies and that the attack highlights the need for better education for boys around why violence should never be an option for solving problems.
"These are everybody's kids. All of our kids have the potential to be doing this, to be behaving like this out in the streets, I feel devastated for these kids.
"I'm devastated for their families and I'm devastated for Quinn. We need to make this a bigger story, a bigger picture. This is Australia-wide.
"We have violence in so many forms, popping up in so many spaces in our communities and when we see it in a school environment like this, I can only think that at a school level that is where we should be targeting how we talk to boys, how we work with boys and how we care for boys and show boys care."
She also said that she felt institutions like schools needed to ensure there was space for people like Quinn to fit in.
"Quinn often faces misunderstanding in the community and we're a big huge community group, autistic people. So, we need to learn to make space for those people in our society."