Boy to apol­o­gize for bul­ly­ing

Vic­tim says he’s will­ing to for­give

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY AN­DREW RANKIN

Jim Ellsworth cried watch­ing the vi­ral video of his son tor­ment­ing a 14-year-old Glace Bay boy with cere­bral palsy and he says he’s still sick­ened by what he wit­nessed.

“Ab­so­lutely dev­as­tated,” said Ellsworth. “I’m not de­fend­ing the ac­tions of my son in any way shape or form. He made a huge mis­take and he’s go­ing to wear it and suf­fer the con­se­quences.”

His 14-year-old boy fell short on Tues­day. The ev­i­dence was plain to see in a video posted on Face­book Thurs­day, show­ing the abuse fel­low 14-year-old Brett Cor­bett en­dured at the hands of Glace Bay High School stu­dents. His son is close to the ac­tion, en­cour­ag­ing Cor­bett to lie face first in a tor­rent of shal­low wa­ter, laugh­ing as a teenage girl steps on his back to get over the stream to avoid get­ting wet. A new video of the in­ci­dent emerged Fri­day show­ing a hand­ful of stu­dents swear­ing at Cor­bett and or­der­ing him to lie down in the wa­ter.

Ellsworth’s son tosses what looks to be a rock or a cell­phone in Cor­bett’s di­rec­tion, which lands in the fast-mov­ing wa­ter.

“I cried watch­ing that, ab­so­lutely I did,” said Ellsworth. “His step­mother hasn’t stopped cry­ing since watch­ing the video on Thurs­day. That’s not the boy we know.”

But Ellsworth is promis­ing that his son, who along with two other stu­dents, has been sus­pended from school over his in­volve­ment in the in­ci­dent, will learn his les­son.

He said the boy has en­rolled in a youth men­tor­ship pro­gram run by the school’s guid­ance coun­sel­lor and will be­gin vol­un­teer­ing at the Glace Bay Ele­men­tary School break­fast pro­gram start­ing Tues­day.

The teenager is go­ing to write an apol­ogy let­ter to the boy and hand-de­liver it to the fam­ily.

Cor­bett says he would gladly wel­come it. He says he’s been bom­barded by sup­port from stu­dents at the school and wider com­mu­nity.

“Yes, I would re­ally like to see him and get that let­ter,” said Cor­bett. “Life is too short to hold grudges. I don’t think he’s a bad per­son. Ev­ery­one was tak­ing part so he de­cided to join in.

“But I’m kind of glad I got threat­ened be­cause maybe there will be a bit of a change. I don’t want peo­ple to be bul­lied.”

The Chron­i­cle Her­ald spoke to Cor­bett while Glace Bay High School prin­ci­pal Don­nie Hol­land and vice-prin­ci­pal Tanya Jamieson were vis­it­ing his home. Cor­bett said they had ar­rived to of­fer sup­port but ac­cused him of ly­ing about the school’s re­fusal to help him. The Her­ald pub­lished a story Thurs­day on the bul­ly­ing in­ci­dent in which he said he com­plained to school staff twice about be­ing bul­lied but was ig­nored.

The Her­ald asked to speak to Hol­land and Jamieson while they were at Cor­bett’s home but both de­clined.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Zach Churchill called the sit­u­a­tion un­ac­cept­able and said he’s deeply con­cerned.

Cur­rently the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion is con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent to en­sure the school’s anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies are fol­lowed and en­forced. He said schools must take vic­tims of bul­ly­ing se­ri­ously and ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port must be made avail­able. But he stopped short of say­ing the depart­ment would con­duct its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The video has sparked a firestorm of crit­i­cism di­rected at the stu­dents in­volved in the in­ci­dent and the school’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Chris­tine Balan, a Hal­i­faxbased coun­selling ther­a­pist, says she un­der­stands why there’s been a com­mu­nity back­lash in re­sponse to the in­ci­dent. But she also says it’s im­por­tant that the sit­u­a­tion be met with care and that the stu­dents ac­cused of bul­ly­ing are not sub­jected to bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour by an­gry res­i­dents

“It’s about modelling how we want them to act,” said Balan. “The root of bul­ly­ing is shame and you want to stop that cy­cle but be­ing clear that it’s not tol­er­ated and not ac­cept­able.”

Balan said vic­tims of bul­ly­ing need to be sup­ported but not so far as in­still­ing in them a vic­tim men­tal­ity.

“They need to be heard and val­i­dated be­cause they of­ten don’t have that. So, it’s about build­ing em­pow­er­ment, help­ing them to de­velop skills to stop the bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour them­selves.”

EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON/CAPE BRETONN POST

Glace Bay High School is in tur­moil this week af­ter an in­ci­dent that saw a 14-year-old stu­dent with cere­bral palsy bul­lied by other stu­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.