Over the past two weeks, two separate families have contacted us because their children were the targets of vicious bullying incidents.
In one case, a mother turned to the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette, claiming her son was, and continues to be, the target of gratuitous violence at Westwood Junior High School. Her description of the repeated incidents portrays the kind of systemic, mean-spirited bullying that comes when kids sense they can get away with beating on someone smaller and more defenceless than them.
In the second case, the bullying took the form of a violent physical assault which, if committed by an adult, would result in criminal charges and a record if the perpetrator is found guilty. In this case, a criminal charge has been filed with the Sûreté du Québec.
We’ve attempted to get both sides of both stories, with little success. The Lester B. Pearson School Board is adept at invoking personal-privacy clauses to avoid having to provide details. So we’re running the mother’s account. We know her identity and believe her to be telling the truth. People don’t usually make these things up.
As for the second incident, the assailant will either learn a valuable lesson or become one of those men who beats up on women or dies in a bar fight.
Let’s focus on the Lester B. Pearson School Board. Is this the same board that had its chairman’s photo in a West Island rag last week, posing with the founder of the Peaceful Schools movement? Was this the same board that accepted a citation for its part in controlling bullying?
It’s not by downplaying and covering up these incidents that we learn how to make our schools places of learning. It’s by admitting there’s a problem, then acting swiftly and decisively, as did Westwood Senior principal Alana Quinn-Leroux during last February’s firearm incident.
The expression we hear most often from educators is that each of these cases is an “isolated incident.” Yes, they are all isolated, but when they’re strung together, we see a systemic bullying problem. Portraying bullying as a bunch of isolated problems is an easy way to do nothing about it. Either the LBPSB deals with bullying the way it says it does, or it should reconsider its Peaceful Schools award from a mother who lost her son to bullying.
Hudson/St Lazare Gazette Editorial
June 03, 2009