MISSION (NEWS 1130) – The two girls involved in a bullying incident at a school in Mission have been arrested.
The violent incident was caught on tape at École Heritage Park Middle School. It shows two girls kicking and punching a third teen, as they sit defenseless on the ground.
The victim’s mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she is not sure what charges may be recommended, but says “There’s a no-contact order and, to my understanding, they are not allowed back to the school.”
She’s happy to hear about the conditions of their release.
“Our daughter has decided that they wanted to go back. It’s a lot more comforting knowing that they are not going to be there and that there is going to be some kind of repercussions for their actions,” she said.
Mission RCMP confirms two 14 years olds were arrested and subsequently released with court appearances in March. @MissionRCMP are recommending criminal charges of Assault for one of the girls and Assault & Uttering Threats for the other. Full statement: @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 https://t.co/H1GPj3H3aG pic.twitter.com/Wc2bT9hCOt
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) January 15, 2021
In the video, the other students watched and cheered on. The victim’s mother says it’s shocking that nobody stepped in to stop the attack, “but at the same time, it’s not.”
She says she imagines some kids didn’t want to become the next target of bullying.
She says her child is emotionally doing okay, considering what happened. “They had nightmares the first night, but since then have been doing okay and have been trying to hold as positive an attitude as they can.”
She adds one of the attackers tried to reach out to apologize, adding that happened before the no-contact order was in place. “I believe that they could get help, in some way — whether it’s through counselling or community service.”
Angus Wilson, superintendent of the Mission Public School District, called the attack “hideous and horrendous.”
The victim identifies as a non-binary lesbian. While he couldn’t get into the specifics, Wilson says those looking into the matter have a good understanding of what happened, and there is a deeper investigation into the bystanders who stood by and watched.
“They are part of the issue, as well.”
‘What is causing this kind of violence? How is it being allowed to fester?’
An organization which supports LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones is describing the attack and this development as heartbreaking.
Colin McKenna is president of Vancouver’s PFLAG chapter, and hopes those involved are held accountable — and that includes the adults in these children’s lives.
He wants there to be a deep-dive into the situation. “Figure out what is causing this kind of violence at the school. “How is it being allowed to fester? What are the things that they’re doing to try to overcome that? Are they having parent-teacher meetings and discussions about these things?”
“Thinking about SOGI and seeing some of the pushback from the community, that’s one of the major concerns we’ve always had — that the parents need that same level of education and exposure to that material. This could be that opportunity to highlight that and to make it better,” he added.
McKenna, who is gay, has only seen the video of the attack once and says he is unable to watch it again because it’s so upsetting.
For her part, B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says calls the incident “extremely disturbing and distressing” and says her heart goes out to the families involved in this incident.
“All students deserve to feel safe and welcome at school,” she said, adding school districts have policies and codes of conduct around SOGI inclusion.
“I understand that there will be a process that addresses this particular situation. But we will continue to work very hard with teachers, with all of our education partners … to ensure that we are continuing to deliver an education around SOGI principles an to ensure that those are all well-understood and incorporated into everything that we’re doing in our education system.”
She is encouraging students to anonymously report bullying to the “Erase” program, “whether they are experiencing bullying themselves or whether they are witnessing bullying.”
I have directed the Ministry to provide all supports necessary to the school district, students and staff. Police are appropriately investigating and we are cooperating fully. I remind students they can anonymously report bullying on erase https://t.co/BVmVOus879
— Jennifer Whiteside (@JM_Whiteside) January 14, 2021
The victim’s mother says she has received a lot of support from the community. “We see the messages. We hear about the messages, and it is truly appreciated.”
With files from Monika Gul, Kathryn Tindale, and Hana Mae Nassar