A New-Brunswick school has assigned a full-time attendant to watch over a 12-year-old boy who was being bullied at school.
In this instance it seems the child was the subject of severe bullying, both physical as well as verbal, due to fact that he is gay and overweight. In November 2011 the child was removed from school before he returned on a part time basis in February 2012 and full time after March Break of that same year. As part of his return to school his parents requested that he be provided with an attendant.
The child was provided with a full time attendant who was to be with the child at all times and, effectively, act as a body guard. The school believed he would be able to guide the child in stressful or threatening situations.
There are a number of questions that must be asked in this situation and first and foremost is whether the presence of a full time attendant will be beneficial to the child. Despite having been the one to initiate the request, the boy’s parents now say that having an attendant constantly with their child has had the effect of further deteriorating the situation.
Either way this is a significant precedent and
is a clear signal as to the lengths to which a school is willing to go to
address instances of serious bullying. This
is a clear response against bullying, but does the extreme to which the school
is willing to go to protect bullying victims constitute an adequate response to
the problem of bullying.
commentators interviewed for the article commented on the pedagogical issues
with providing a body guard/ babysitter.
We must hope that this constitutes an isolated incident and not the start of an expectation that will see more bullied students accompanied by their own attendants. This level of service could create a precedent for other school boards, one which could not realistically be met, opening up boards to more litigation.
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