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Harsher consequences needed, says father of student attacked at Surrey school

Last Updated Jun 8, 2019 at 5:36 pm PST

Summary

Father of boy attacked by other students at a Surrey school says more needs to be done to ensure son's safety

Paul Pederson says criminal charges may be needed in relation to the attack on his son by other students

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – A Surrey father says more needs to be done to prevent future violence after his son was attacked at school earlier this week during a fight that spilled over from the week before.

The incident, captured on video and shared online, happened in a wooded area behind Fraser Heights Secondary School on Monday.

The RCMP has said the parents and kids involved have agreed to alternate measures, other than going through the courts. However, Paul Pederson hasn’t given up support for charges being laid.

“People are trying to make it sound like we’re just going to have a little sit-down and walk away from this like nothing happened,” the father told NEWS 1130. “That’s not how this country works. When laws are broken, criminal charges are laid.”

He believes restorative justice may not be enough to make his son feel safe at school.

His son was called a snitch, forced on his knees, and kicked in the face in what Pederson says was a separate fight over a girl that started on Friday.

“We have been frustrated because we feel, in part, that the school and the RCMP are trying to make a ‘quick’ resolution out of what happened to my son,” he added. “I can understand both sides — they want to do the appropriate thing, I believe, in good faith, but I also believe that they are trying to keep a good image on themselves and on their establishments.”

The boy hasn’t yet returned to school because Pederson says he and his family “feel that a safe environment has been yet created for him to return.” Meantime, the other students found to be responsible won’t be returning to the classroom for the rest of the school year.

Pederson wants to see “appropriate” action taken.

“We are waiting to hear from the RCMP and the Crown to ensure that they are using their absolute due diligence to make sure that appropriate discipline is being taken,” he said, adding his family has not yet received any word that the Surrey RCMP has reached out to the Crown about possible charges.

“As a parent of a child in school, my utmost and only concern is for their safety and I will not settle for anything short of their absolute safety in the school place,” Pederson said.

Taking ownership of what happened

Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd who took her own life due to bullying, has said she understands Pedersen’s frustrations.

“I think you go through a whole bunch of different emotions as a parent,” she explained. “But, of course, what happened will stay in their minds forever, and it’s going through the steps in ensuring that you can start to dissect it, and realizing that that boy did nothing wrong. His son did nothing wrong.”

Todd believes it’s important for the accused students to take ownership of what happened, why they did it, and why it’s wrong.

“Even if they have restorative practices, there will be some other action to show ownership of what you’ve done and, like, you won’t do it again, but why won’t you do it again? What was wrong about it?” she explained.

Todd stressed the impact an assault — especially one that is filmed and shared online — can have on a child’s life, adding her own daughter had walked around with the weight of being bullied and a video going viral on her shoulders until her untimely death.

While she commends the swift action being taken to address the incident with Pederson’s son, Todd said it’s important to look after the person who was “traumatized” to ensure they feel safe.