Parents informed of assault at school

Steve Bartlett and Colin Maclean
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Board says it won’t tolerate violence; police investigating attack

RNC Const. Steve Curnew speaks to reporters near Leary’s Brook Junior High School on Larkhall Street in
St. John’s after classes ended Tuesday afternoon. A case of bullying was recently reported at the school which has lead to assault charges against a female Grade 8 student.  — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The administrator of a St. John’s junior high where a teenaged girl was charged with assault has sent a voice message home to parents.

Ken Morrissey, spokesman for the Eastern School District, says the correspondence from Leary’s Brook principal Byron Head is meant to tell mothers, fathers and guardians about what happened.

“You know, pointing out it is an isolated incident, but more importantly, to talk to their children about it, and if you’ve got any questions or your children are concerned, contact the school. They are going to work with the children and the parents as well,” Morrissey said.

The board took the lead on answering school-related questions on the incident Wednesday.

On Monday, a female Grade 8 student allegedly beat up a girl in Grade 9.

It happened inside the school and was filmed by students with cellphones.

The aggressor was charged with assault, released on an undertaking and suspended from school. She’s scheduled to be back in court Dec. 11.

The victim was taken to hospital, treated and released.

Another student — reportedly the one who recorded it — was also suspended.

Morrissey said the board will continue to review what happened and it treats such incidents “very seriously, as you can see from the RNC involvement and the fact there are charges laid with respect to it.”

The spokesman wouldn’t disclose the length of the suspensions, but he did say board policy allows a principal to suspend a student for five days and the district to extend that if deemed necessary.

“As part of our review, further suspension is possible,” he said.

Morrissey said there are a lot of programs and initiatives in schools to combat bullying and violence, and the administration feels comfortable in the actions that have been taken.

“Very clearly, within our schools, violence is not permitted. We don’t stand for it. It’s not tolerated,” he said.

He encouraged students who feel they are being intimidated, or who have encountered violence, to “talk to someone they trust, a parent, a teacher, and we’ll do everything (we) can.”

Meanwhile, the RNC held a news conference Wednesday to update reporters about the case.

RNC Const. Steve Curnew told reporters police have questioned a number of witnesses to the incident, but officers would like anyone else with pertinent information to come forward.

They are also reviewing the video evidence.

To his knowledge, none of the videos had made their way online to social media or YouTube as of Wednesday.

This is the second such incident in a Newfoundland school in as many months.

In early October, there was a two-on-one fight between three female students near Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown.

A large group of students watched the fight, with some encouraging it and others recording it with their cellphones.

That incident was linked in media reports to a history of bullying between the three girls.

Police are hesitant to make a similar correlation in this most recent case.

“That’s something that’s still part of the investigation. Incidents leading up to the actual assault are what officers are looking into right now,” Curnew said.

He told reporters that it is still rare for the RNC to be called to incidents of this sort at schools.

“I would imagine there’s a lot that does not get reported. The RNC does not respond often to these calls at schools. But like I said, a lot of that stuff probably goes unreported to us,” he said.

“But even one call is too many.”

Organizations: Morrissey said.The board, Newfoundland school

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Recent comments

  • The girl who was there
    January 06, 2013 - 23:21

    So what really happened was that the girl that got charged ad locked up was the one being bullied... She was being bullied for three month and when she told the school about it nothing was done... So to the random person up there commenting thinking you know everything shut your mouth because you weren't even there! She never went after the other girl because she looked at her boyfriend SHE WAS BEING BULLIED AND NO ONE DID ANYTHING! She tried to look for help but nothin happened it just kept getting worse and worse so she finally snapped and went after her! And that's what really happened so people and the news reporters should have got their facts straight before writing anything!

  • A mom
    November 22, 2012 - 20:43

    I have a daughter who I have to take home everyday for lunch,she is teased,made fun of taunted,why I don,t know she is a normal young grade 7 student but I guess she just don,t fit in with some other students.I have to change lunch breaks with other co -workers just so I can take care of her lunch,I have to give up my afternoon break just to get her from school.This is a JR High school here in St John,s I have been over to school many times only to be told that it's an on going problem,I like to know why these kids are still in school,why do I have to spend all this extra cash on gas,why should my daughter be made to go to school each day and only to get a hard time,this should be the best time of her young life.While speaking with the staff at school they say alot of this foolishness going on is due to parents who think their children don,t do anything wrong,or a teacher has no right to talk down to their kids.Parents take control of your kids or they will be doing time by the time they turn 21 or sooner

  • Get with the program.
    November 22, 2012 - 15:30

    Adults who use bullying as a means of control have no management skills. Young people act out when we try to control them. What they need is guidance and nurturing. The Convention on the Rights of the Child addresses every single issue and situation in the daily life of every child up to age 18 but it isn’t taught or practiced in classrooms or homes because adults think that rights take away power to control. That is simply not true. The CRC has benefited all teachers, parents and youngsters in places where it’s been used. Teachers have the greatest advantage to spread CRC guidelines out into the homes by mere fact that they have contact with multitudes of young people on a daily basis. While parents and teachers have been squabbling for years over control, no one is guiding and nurturing the young and the consequences have been dire. Wake up people! Get with the program.

  • Really Steve?
    November 22, 2012 - 13:14

    Steve, I think you need a reality check. These kids are recording incidents of bullying and physical altercations because they see it as entertainment. As someone who works with teenagers every day, I see this more and more in recent years. There are a lot of GREAT kids in our schools but if this kid wanted to help his/her fellow student they would have run for an adult, not stood around with their cellphone.

  • grant
    November 22, 2012 - 09:25

    So we all know the justice system record in NL is for the criminal, always has. this will blow over, in a few weeks everything is back to normal, forgotten. From murder cases to this case its the same, check the records. This thug will be back at scool and forgotten about in a few weeks. Way to go justice.

  • Parent of a Child at Leary's Brook
    November 22, 2012 - 09:24

    @ offshore traveller: No.. The Older student Apparently LOOKED at the other girl's Boyfriend.. It was not a case that she had enough of the bullying.. that comment is laughable..and so is the anonymous internet experts that make such comments

    • hahaha
      November 22, 2012 - 12:31

      Your laughable .... hahahahha

  • Concerned
    November 22, 2012 - 09:14

    I agree that the student that attacked the other student should be at the very least suspended. In regards to anyone who "stood by", these cases need to be reviewed on an individual basis. Some students may have "stood by" simply because they froze, or were fearful of being attacked themselves if they did do anything to intervene. Another troubling thing is this incident happened inside the school not on a playground but directly inside the school.

  • Jen
    November 22, 2012 - 09:04

    I am so glad to see this going to court. I am aware of so many bullying incidents where the children did not report it because they were afraid to. As a parent of a child who was bullied, I reported it to the teacher who watched it, the principal and the board....all of who did nothing other than make the children write a letter of apology to my child. I should have taken further action, but I just moved my child out of the school because it was the easiest thing for 'her'.

  • Robert
    November 22, 2012 - 07:49

    Pretty sad that's how I see it. Can't be much learning went on that day.

  • Offshore Traveller
    November 22, 2012 - 07:45

    Before we all jump on the 'thug' bandwagon, it is worth considering that the one who was beaten up could have been a chronic bully, and the younger child finally had enough. If THAT was the case, good for you for not tolerating being tormented anymore. And, as one who was bullied throughout my entire education career, I'm not at all surprised to see that the Eastern School District is no more able or willing to prevent such actions or help bulied children as they were in my day.

    • JennaP
      November 22, 2012 - 09:01

      "the one who was beaten up could have been a chronic bully, and the younger child finally had enough" I agree. Those were my thoughts as well when I saw the difference in age. But regardless of that, sometimes it is often the case in any squabble between kids that the one who lashes out (due to the first kid starting the fight) is the one to get caught and blamed.

    • wavy
      November 22, 2012 - 09:32

      I'm not at all surprised to see that the Eastern School District is no more able or willing to prevent such actions. ---------------------------------------------------------- Given the police involvement, the plethora of anti-bullying awareness campaigns, student and public awareness of the issue and repeated attempts by schools to quash such behaviour, what else could anyone do? This is not a silent issue anymore, not to be confused with those still suffering in silence. We are all troubled and exasperated by these incidents. But, really, what more could anyone do? It is crime and sometimes, despite everyone's best efforts to the contrary, crime cannot be prevented, only punished. And the very definition of effective, behaviour-modifying punishment, in and of itself, is fiercely debatable.

    November 22, 2012 - 07:35

    Hope the Administrator had the courtesy and decency to actually visit the parents of the child involved not just send a voice mail.

  • Steve
    November 22, 2012 - 07:24

    "Another student — reportedly the one who recorded it — was also suspended. " This troubles me. Why were they suspended? I'd like to know more information on this. I find it deeply troubling when those who document the violence are punished the same as those who committed the act. If this person was just simply recording it then they should be commended not condemned. Recordings like this protect the students not just from themselves and other students but also from the authority figures within the school and in the community from over stepping their authority. The students video should be looked at from a 3rd party to see why it should or shouldn't have resulted in punishment. If the student recorded it for use as humiliation for the victim then by all means punish them but if they were recording it to document what happened please apologize to them and commend them.

    • Michlle
      November 22, 2012 - 07:51

      Anyone who stands and watches ALONE video tape any type of abuse should be punished. Students should of right away went to school authorities and reported it. I think the condition of abused student is enough evidence. To stand and watch is sick!!

    • Anonymous
      November 22, 2012 - 13:58

      To Steve: As a parent of a teenage child, it is my experience that the use of electronic devices to record acts of bullying and violence in schools is commonplace. When adolescents find themselves in the presence of thier peers, cheering on and waiting to videotape, it intensifes the situation ten fold and makes it much more difficult for either child to "back out". So, from this point of view, the child who stands by and eggs the violence on, cheers, or videotapes, is just as guilty if not more so than the kids fighting. Many times, it uploaded to social media sites and takes on a life of its own. I agree with "Really Steve" who points out there were other ways for this kid to help if in fact he/she was genuinely concerned for the victim. Nobody needs to have all the details of this particular case to realize that fighting amongst our youth in a setting that is intended to be safe environment in which to learn is not OK...nor is it ok for people to stand by and passively, or not so passively participate by videotaping and in many cases disseminating the info to others....we are too busy making excuses for our children rather than holding them accounatable for thier actions. Its a complex situation and we have to look beyond simply the school system for the solution.

  • Katy
    November 22, 2012 - 06:33

    Please stop using phrases like "beat up" which only encourage the attacker by building their reputation as a punk. Stick with more accurate descriptions like attacked and assaulted. These are more closely applicable to the crime committed.