Charges laid after boy with Down syndrome is bullied

REGINA – Police have laid charges against two high-school students for violating the city’s anti-bullying law.

It’s alleged a 16 and 17-year-old took advantage of another student with Down syndrome by filming the victim, in his underwear, as he dressed for gym.

The special-needs student’s mother explained what she saw in the video: “He was just being his happy-go-lucky self, singing and dancing. That’s what he does… They thought it was hilarious and started egging him on to do more silly things.”

“He said to the boys – ‘stop, you’re being mean’. The boys didn’t stop.” The boy cannot be named as he is a minor.

The video was shared on social media before coming to her attention.

“My heart jumped to my throat. I felt physically ill and angered. Any mother wants to protect their child.”

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Terry Lazarou, communications supervisor for Regina Public School Board, said the school division does not condone what happened.

“Regina Public Schools doesn’t tolerate any kind of bullying or behaviour that is violent or condescending or disrespectful,” he said. “All students are expected to respect themselves, and to respect all their peers.”

Lazarou added school sanctions can range from a simple apology to expulsion.

However, the victim’s mom felt the consequences were insufficient, in this case.

“It just didn’t seem enough. They were suspended during a week that it was teachers’ convention. They really only missed one day of school,” she said. “That’s nothing. That’s a slap on the wrist.”

The Regina Police Service laid charges earlier this week. However, in nine years, the anti-bullying law has not yet delivered a conviction.

“It’s never right to behave in a way that is bullying, or demeans others, or is hurtful,” said communication manager, Elizabeth Popowich. “That’s precisely why we’re asked to look into incidents like this, and why we take them seriously.”

“The bylaw is a measure that isn’t remediation and isn’t a criminal code charge, but it’s still a meaningful sanction.”

The victim’s mother hoped the charges, which can result in a fine of up to $2,000, help students realize bullying is not a joke.

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“These kids deserve to be safe at school, to be happy at school, and to be themselves.”

Since the incident, other students have rallied around her son. Her son has chosen to take the high road, accepting the bullies’ apologies.

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