Source: CBC News
A Nepean High School student was punched and kneed in the face and the head in a school washroom after standing up to an older boy who was bullying a student who has a disability. The mother of the student said school leadership was silent on the incident.
Murray said her son was concerned about reprisals and didn’t tell her about the incident until the day after it happened.
Sarah Murray said she was disturbed to see a video of her son being attacked at Nepean High School and frustrated with the silence surrounding the assault.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board confirmed a student was injured in an assault in a bathroom at Nepean High School, but declined to comment on the details of the incident.
Ottawa police charged one youth with assault causing bodily harm, but no formal reports were filed until two days after the incident. Murray said she doesn’t understand why the school waited to talk to the police.
The board said police may be contacted immediately in response to an active life-threatening situation or crime in progress, but an administrator may choose to refer the matter to the police after sufficient information has been collected.
Murray said her family’s experience with the police has been helpful and empathetic, and she wonders if school resource officers should be reinstated.
Murray said police can build better relationships with staff and students and help students who are in trouble change their behaviour before it’s too late.
Tracy Vaillancourt, Canada Research Chair in school-based mental health and violence prevention, said students are often reluctant to ask for adult help with bullying, but the situation at Nepean High School stood out because other students didn’t come forward.
The school administration needs to look at what issues are at the school, and connect with students so they come forward about what’s wrong.
Vaillancourt said increased adult supervision and smaller cohorts that accompanied COVID-19 health measures contributed to a 50 percent decrease in bullying in Ontario schools.
The OCDSB said it will release the results of its school climate survey soon and will work with students, parents and guardians to improve safety.
The basis of liability to hold a school accountable will sound in negligence. A negligence claim requires that a person “owe a duty of care” to another person to do/not do something and the failure to do/not do that thing will trigger liability. There can be a great deal of nuance about when a duty arises and when it will be imposed but, fortunately, in Canada, it is common ground that a teacher/principal/school/board owe a duty of care to their students.And while the scope/boundaries of that duty are ever evolving, the Supreme Court has long ago ruled that a school board has a duty “to work towards the creation of an environment in which students of all backgrounds will feel welcomed and equal” and that “it is not sufficient for a school board to take a passive role. A school board has a duty to maintain a positive school environment for all persons served by it and it must be ever vigilant of anything that might interfere with this duty.”As such, if a student is injured while at school because of bullying, there is some possibility that the school can be held accountable for creating an unsafe environment and for the injuries that result.
Please contact us if you have been injured at school in Ontario as a result of a bully. We can help you.