LONDON — A video showing the bullying of a 15-year-old boy — described by British news media as a Syrian refugee — on a school playing field in England has attracted an outpouring of support this week.
The 25-second video, captured last month, shows a tall boy approaching the victim, about a head shorter, tackling him to the ground and dousing his face with water, shouting “I’ll drown you,” and an expletive. As other students stand by, some of them recording the scene, the victim is shown quietly standing up and walking away.
People on social media said the images recalled waterboarding, an interrogation technique simulating the experience of drowning.
The incident happened at lunchtime on Oct. 25 at a school in the town of Huddersfield, southwest of Leeds, in northern England.
The West Yorkshire Police said Tuesday that they were “investigating a report of a racially-aggravated assault.” In a statement released on Wednesday, the police said a 16-year-old would be summoned to a youth court over the episode, but made no mention of a racial or ethnic motive.
In the video, the boy who is bullied has a cast on his right arm. The police said his wrist had been injured on Oct. 7, and that “three youths were interviewed” in connection with what had happened to him then.
“There was no further police action and the matter was referred to the school,” the police statement said.
The police warned media outlets and others against sharing the video, which had already been reposted online tens of thousands of times, saying that they risked prejudicing future court proceedings, which in Britain can itself be a criminal offence.
After the video spread online, a GoFundMe campaign was posted on Tuesday to support the victim and his family. It had collected more than £72,000 — about $92,000 — from more than 4,800 donors by Wednesday afternoon.
On social media, many people reacted to the video and news coverage of the incident with a mix of shock and outrage.
Barry Sheerman, the local member of Parliament, called the video “shocking” in a post on Twitter and promised to ensure the family would receive support.
Jonas Lössl, the goalkeeper of the local soccer club, Huddersfield Town, invited the family to a game.
Maya Goodfellow, a freelance writer, said on Twitter that “a broader context of dehumanizing migrants and refugees helps produce abuse like this.”
Others pointed more specifically to anti-immigrant headlines on the front pages of Britain’s tabloid newspapers.
A report commissioned by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in 2015, at the height of Europe’s migration crisis, found that of five countries studied in Western Europe, Britain had the most negative news coverage of migration.
Earlier that year, the United Nations urged Britain to deal with hate speech in its newspapers, specifically citing a column in The Sun that compared migrants to cockroaches and the norovirus.