WATCH ABOVE: Video posted to YouTube of a fight between two students at Sutton District High School captures students yelling racial slurs at a black student.
TORONTO – The father of a black student at a York Region high school is furious with the school board after his son was beaten in a fight, while onlookers yelled racial slurs.
“I can’t believe that happened here in Canada,” said Charles Makuto, the father of the student who was beaten in the video. “It’s worrisome. it’s scary that this kind of thing goes on in Canada today because it shouldn’t.”
Makuto said the event has been traumatic for his entire family. His son, he said, has been the victim of bullying that included name calling, spit balls, pushing since last October.
Four youths and one adult have been charged with assault in the April incident at Sutton District High School.
The fight was filmed by students and subsequently uploaded to YouTube. In the video, one bystander can be heard yelling “pound the n—–.”
Makuto said he met with school officials to talk about his son’s safety and ask if there was a plan to make sure he wouldn’t be bullied further. He says the school didn’t have an immediate solution.
Dawn Laliberte, the principal at Sutton High School, called the incident disgusting and said the school is taking steps to ensure the incident is not repeated.
“It’s definitely an incident that many, many people in the school and in the school board are disgusted by. It’s unacceptable and it’s definitely not tolerated here,” she said. “We involved police right away, once we knew what was happening.”
Laliberte said peer mentors are working with the police hate crimes unit to help students who are confronted with a similar situation.
“Having the students understand the impact of what their actions and their words really mean. I think working alongside with parents and community, in terms of building up that education capacity is what we really need.”
This is not the first controversial incident at Sutton High School. Last year the school made headlines when it had to ban students from wearing clothing adorned with the confederate flag.
Detective Constable Mark Topping, with the York Region Hate Crimes Unit, who worked with peer mentors at Sutton says more needs to done to educate students about hate crimes.
“Starting with human rights and moving through hate crime to talking about diversity and the importance of understanding one another to avoid these types of incidents,” he said.
Topping wouldn’t comment on the case specifically as it involved young people and is currently before the courts.
For Mukato he is concerned for his 12-year-old daughter, a Grade 7 elementary school student, and suggested the school isn’t doing enough to provide a safe environment.
*With files from Carey Marsden