Two violent attacks involving youth captured on video are raising concerns about issues of bullying in central Alberta communities.
It was an Easter Sunday that Jennifer Sears said she will never forget. It was the day her 13-year-old son Jesse was violently attacked at a Fort Saskatchewan skate park.
“Horrified. I can’t believe that someone would just do this to another human being. I don’t understand why,” Sears said.
“He was asked to come over to the skate park, and his friend was standing there videotaping and has the video running even before the child walks up behind my child and struck him.”
As soon as she found out, she called police and sought medical help.
“We were taken to the hospital, to the Stollery, where he was assessed and put in a neck brace for two weeks and then to be reassessed by a neurosurgeon,” Sears said.
No charges were laid. RCMP and the family said steps are in the works to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.
The family said Jesse is still shaken but overall is doing better.
To create further awareness, an anti-bullying biker group held a ride near the skate park Sunday.
“We’re just here to spread awareness that bullying shouldn’t be tolerated,” president of Bullying Enns Steve Enns said.
Another shocking video made the rounds on social media, showing a Black student being attacked on April 16 by a few Rosslyn School students and others who were not from the school.
In a tweet, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson wrote: “I’m extremely disturbed by the footage of Pazo’s attack. I’m glad to hear that Edmonton police and the Edmonton Public Schools are investigating. My hope is that the family finds justice soon.”
In a release, Edmonton Public Schools superintendent Darrel Roberston wrote: “There is no place for these kinds of actions or language in our schools or community. We must continue to work together as a community and as a school division towards the elimination of systemic racism and violence.”
Edmonton Catholic Schools also issued a statement, saying the school district was given videos on April 19 of an assault that took place after school on April 16 near Rosslyn School.
“Two of our students were involved. Because of the violent nature and the racist language, we immediately involved the Edmonton Police Service and, in compliance with privacy legislation, provided the names of our students,” the statement read.
“This is an extremely complex situation because it involves students from two school divisions and includes a police investigation. We have taken action in accordance with the Education Act and the school’s Student Conduct Policy. Due to privacy legislation, we cannot discuss specifics about the students or any related discipline. We continue to work closely with Edmonton Public Schools and support the Edmonton Police Service in their criminal investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rosslyn student and his family. Racism and violence have no place in our society. Every member of our community has a right to live their lives free from racism and violence.”
As for Jesse, he hopes his story will help make a difference.
“He’s nervous from this incident but wants to help to raise the awareness,” Sears said.