When is enough enough?
That was the question asked of school district officials and trustees at last week’s school board meeting by a mother fearing for the safety of her son.
Christine, whose name has been changed at her request, was in tears and quietly sobbing as her friend read a letter to trustees that she had written about her 15-year-old son who has endured four years of relentless bullying.
Her son has been called names, shoved around, stalked in and out of school, had rocks thrown at him, and one day, on his way home from school, a gun pointed at him from the window of a moving vehicle – all at the hands of one child.
“As soon as a gun is pulled, whether it’s real or not, that brings the situation to a whole new level,” Christine said later in an interview with The Progress.
The public meeting, she felt, was her last resort.
This week, from Nov. 14-18, is National Anti-Bullying Week.
Chilliwack school district’s Policy 501 states that all students have a right to education in a safe environment. But this mother doesn’t believe her son has had that right.
The bullying started at Chilliwack middle school in 2007. Christine’s son, who has attention deficit disorder, had experienced rapid weight gain after going off one of his medications. He became an easy target for name calling and taunting.
At first, Christine didn’t put much into it; although annoying, she believed it was something most kids go through. She contacted the school and was told the child would be spoken to.
But the bullying didn’t stop.
The taunts turned into threats, her son was shoved around, had rocks thrown at him on school grounds, and was often trailed all the way home.
Christine went back to the school.
“I told the principal that talking to this teenager wasn’t going to accomplish anything, it was pointless, they had to remove the kid,” she said.
When they didn’t, Christine removed her son from the school, and enrolled him at A.D. Rundle middle school.
“I had to get my kid out of that kid’s line of vision,” she said.
However, while no longer at the same school, the bully continued to stalk up and down their street “like a predator,” taunting her son from the outside, implanting in him a fear of leaving the house.
In 2009, her son started having seizures, which were later diagnosed as stress seizures.
After nearly two years of hospital visits, and missed school, Christine was advised that Chance Alternate would be a better suited school for her son’s needs as it was better equipped with resources and medical personnel.
Before committing to Chance, Christine made sure the bully would not be welcomed there. She was adamant that if that child went to Chance, her son would not.
She felt an agreement had been made.
Three weeks ago, the bully was accepted into Chance; Christine’s son hasn’t been in school since.
This is the third school he’s attended since the bullying started.
“Enough is enough now,” Christine said. “My son has been displaced three times because of that kid … I was proactive, I made sure, I specified, I made it a big deal. I had what I felt was a guarantee that this kid was not going to be allowed at this school. He needs to be removed from the Chilliwack school district’s system period.
“We can’t take it anymore, my son has stress seizures. I have worked feverishly with Children’s Hospital, and with the beautiful amazing doctors at Chilliwack hospital, we are all working so hard, and if we’re all working so hard and it takes this one kid to tear it down, I will not stand by and allow that to happen anymore.”
Christine had spoken to both the counselor and vice principal at Chance, but didn’t believe the school was doing enough – that’s why she went to the board meeting.
“This has to stop,” she said.
Superintendent Michael Audet told The Progress this week that the school district is working on a resolution.
A meeting was scheduled for this week with Christine, her son, the vice principal, principal and assistant superintendent responsible for that school.
“We want to restore peace between the two individuals and if that’s not possible, we will have to take some steps to ensure her child is safe,” said Audet.
“What are those steps? At this point I don’t know.
“We don’t want her child to be bullied at all.”