By Andrew Rogerson
According to Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) in this CBC news report, more than 30 per cent of students in Grades 4 to 6 have experienced physical, social or verbal bullying at least once. The Board was reviewing the Interim Report from the Safe Schools Review Panel. The panel also found that a quarter of Grade 7 and 8 students reported being physically bullied at least once during the school year.
These are staggering statistics and it makes me wonder why it took a review panel to see that bullying was so prevalent in the District. What is worse is that it took the death of a 14-year-old boy who was stabbed by a classmate for the school board to act and commission the report.
HWDSB trustees say that they lack a clearly understood definition of ‘bullying’. Ontario’s Education Act sets out the definition very clearly, as does the reputable Bullying Canada, so one wonders why these definitions were not adhered too. Were they too complicated to understand or were they merely ignored? One thing is clear, when ‘bullying’ is called something else, we all lose.
There is no excuse for children to be subjected to bullying. And sadly, for so many, they are led to believe through the non-action of their teachers and administration that the only way to get out of the situation is to try to take their own life.
That is what happened to Jane Doe (identity is protected by court order), a young woman who attended Havergal College, an all girls private school. The bullying from Havergal classmates was so intense that she attempted to take her own life on two separate occasions. When she looked for help, she was told the behaviour wasn’t ‘bullying’ and therefore the Havergal policies, said to be in place, to stop bullying, didn’t apply.
We know bullying can be prevented with proper school intervention and support from staff members, but this was not the case for Jane at Havergal. It is only by a miracle that Jane did not succeed in taking her precious life and is here today to seek justice.
Rogerson Law Group is proud to represent Jane Doe in her fight against Havergal College. She is incredibly strong, as are so many other young women who have come forward since news broke of Jane’s case.
Like in the HWDSB, students have experienced systematic bullying inside Havergal. Rogerson Law Group is committed to protecting the vulnerable and encourages other young women who have suffered from bullying at Havergal College to come forward and share their story. Your anonymity can be guaranteed.