REGINA – It’s considered unprecedented; for the first time in Regina, a teen has been sentenced under the municipal anti-bullying bylaw.
In April, a 16 and 17-year-old were charged after filming the 14-year-old boy with Down syndrome in his underwear, as he got dressed for gym class.
The victim’s mother says the boys then shared the video through social media.
“They were asking him to do pretty horrible things on camera for their benefit and laughing,” she adds.
One of the teens plead guilty to the charge Wednesday and was given a $300 fine. The other is expected to attend an anti-bullying program before returning to court in October.
“We were ecstatic, so happy this was finally being used,” the victim’s mother shares. “We definitely think it’s about time.”
This is the first time the bylaw has resulted in a sentence since it was implemented in 2006.
Regina Police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich says the fact it’s the first speaks to the way the justice system regards young people.
“I think if there are opportunities for mediation and education and for people to recognize their actions it doesn’t have to leap right to the first punitive measure.”
The John Howard Society’s Regina executive director, Jaime Boldt, says ideally any offender would take the program because a fine can just be paid.
“In this program, the empathy piece is really important,” she says. “To start to gain insight so the behavior doesn’t repeat itself,” she adds.
The victim’s mother supports the anti-bullying program over a fine, but also thinks when something has been shared online there’s room for a criminal charge.
She says her son has forgiven the boys and is happy to know his story may prevent someone else getting bullied in the future.
“I knew the day he was born he was here to change the world somehow, because he’s so special,” she said.
“So if this had to be it, this had to be it.”