Allegations of violence at a WQSB school remain unresolved
Laurent Robillard-Cardinal and Lily Ryan
The mother of a former Hadley Junior High School student has raised concerns about student safety. She told the Bulletin that her teenage son was allegedly threatened by a blade-wielding schoolmate in mid-March of this year. The mother complained to Gatineau police.
“I don’t have anything regarding a knife, but the file I have concerns a case of uttering threats in a school. The file remains active and our officer assigned to the school is working on it,” reports Andrée East, police spokesperson. The student has since changed schools upon request of his mother.
Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) Director General Paul Lamoureux refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but did comment on bullying and violence.
“Schools do have a responsibility to apply anti-bullying policies and we want the policy applied to ensure students’ safety when cases of intimidation and violence occur,” said Lamoureux.
At Hadley, the anti-bullying policy is to “report and respond to all acts of violence and bullying in our school, as well as eliminate violence and bullying from our school experience.”
The mother argues that the school failed to respond promptly to her fears about bullying of her son. However, Hadley’s principal Dodie Tayne also refused to comment on the boy’s case.
FaceboOk page called “F*&# HIM”
To complicate things further, the boy was also apparently the victim of intimidation on social media. The mother told the Bulletin a page named “F*&# HIM” was created in response to the boy’s asking for help after being bullied. The sole purpose of the new site was to intimidate the boy. Such activity, according to Gatineau police, is becoming common.
“Our youth live within social media and it’s not unusual to see this. Anyone can denounce a Facebook account and can explain to responsible authorities why the account should be closed,” explained Officer East. Any Facebook group or account targeting a student can be used by police to build a file.
The boy’s mother added that the students created the page after her son refused to cooperate with students allegedly involved with drugs. According to Mr. Lamoureux, when there are allegations of drugs on school grounds, a case is opened and an investigation begins.
“We look at these case-by-case. There are many elements to consider,” noted Lamoureux. “When a weapon (for example) is brought onto school grounds we are no longer dealing with the Anti-Bullying Policy; we are dealing with the school’s Code of Conduct and police are automatically alerted.”
Gatineau police told the Bulletin that the force collaborates with the school board in these situations. Said Officer East, “First, we determine if the victim wishes to file a complaint. We explain to the victim the different steps and various possibilities. We advise the victims that they will likely testify in front of the aggressor, which some are unwilling to do.”