A photo has gone viral of a young boy bandaged up after allegedly being dragged into a storeroom and locked in a "cage" by supermarket staff workers in Perth has left his family in the middle of a media firestorm.
NITV has spoken to the mother who wishes to be identified as Crystal, and for her son to remain unidentified for his wellbeing.
Crystal told NITV the event, which took place on December 30, has left her feeling sick.
“My sister rang me and said that my son was locked up in the shop,” she said.
“I was on my way down there and she rang me and said that a man had [my son] locked up in a cage and said he was bleeding and I said to ring the police and record it.”
It is alleged that shop workers had dragged the young boy into the storeroom and thrown him into a cage after allegedly catching him stealing a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Crystal’s nine-year-old son sustained a number of injuries after he broke a window to escape the cage he had been trapped in.
The boy has a cut to his arm, scratches on his hands, and a cut to the back of his head.
“I felt ... sick and why, why my kid?” said Crystal.
Speaking to NITV, the boy said he was scared during and after the ordeal but is now feeling better.
Founder and CEO of Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation, Mervyn Eades, was notified about the ordeal and has been assisting the family through the ordeal.
Mr Eades said the child comes from a “loving” and “supportive” family.
“What’s happened to this young boy could happen to any young boy, and to any of our children. This is a nine-year-old child we’re talking about, (over) a bottle of coke,” he told NITV.
“No one has the right to handle anyone’s children, no matter what colour they are. Don’t use that vigilante approach and take the law into your own hands.”
Mr Eades also criticised mainstream media’s portrayal of the family and child, and the linking of him to unrelated anti-social behaviour in other parts of Perth.
“Instead of demonising them for allegedly what a child has done, we need to look at creating the support networks around them," he said.
"Especially our young Indigenous children, they need support networks around them. Governments need to come on board and help fund more support networks for our children.”
WA Police have been made aware of the incident and are investigating.