No matter what she could do for the safety of her son, she didn’t like the options. Either way, it would tear her family apart.
Beatrice (not her real name) was worried her oldest son was so hurt and tormented that he would commit suicide.
She also feared her son would eventually become one of them.
So, Beatrice, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and her husband decided to send her son away to another school.
She is upset that her son has been bullied by what she calls a "posse" of students at Corner Brook Intermediate for the past two years.
“I was terrified for him because it happens," she said. "It’s not talked about enough. Everything is brushed under the rug. Enough is enough."
She understands that teachers’ hands are tied in a lot of cases because students have no fear of retribution, but she insists people have to have consequences for their actions.
“If you are causing physical harm and stress to another human being you have to be dealt with,” she said. “You need to be taken accountable ... You may think it’s funny and it may make you feel wonderful to treat somebody that way, but you tore my son apart.”
The impact on her son has been gut-wrenching. He weighed 110 pounds when he started Grade 8 this year, but when Beatrice sent him away on Nov. 1 he tipped the scales at just 89 pounds.
Beatrice was also stressed, shedding 25 pounds herself trying to find a way to keep her family together while trying to get school administrators to address her valid concerns about safety at school.
She held back tears as she tried to explain that she didn’t want to be apart from her boy, but he wasn’t going to be happy at the school.
“I hurt," she said. "I ache every day I wake up. I miss him."
Corner Brook Intermediate held an assembly on Oct. 26 whereby school climate and culture was discussed.
Stephen Perchard, acting principal at Corner Brook Intermediate, said the assembly was planned after teachers looked at school climate data from last year during an in-service Oct. 22. The Department of Education conducts an Education Performance Measurement Framework survey every year that is filled out by students, teachers and parents at the school.
That survey involves questions related to academics, school climate and culture. While the survey showed the school was doing great from an academic perspective, it revealed that that 51.9 per cent of the student body didn’t feel safe at school. Perchard said this served as a wake-up call that something has to be done to improve the school climate.
He said the assembly was used to reassure students that school officials hear their concerns and want to do everything in their power to take steps to make it a safe place.
“We want our students to feel that they are safe in this building and they are cared about,” he said. “That’s a huge goal and I think every teacher on the staff wants students to feel that way ... I want every staff member when they come in to feel that way as well."
Perchard said procedures are in place to deal with issues of concern and he wanted people to know that there are measures in place to deal with anything from fighting to drug use — concerns expressed in the survey findings — but often people don’t see what the school is doing behind the scenes to address the concerns expressed by parents.
A professional development day is planned for Corner Brook Intermediate on Tuesday whereby teachers will discuss concerns raised about school climate data. It will also give them an opportunity to go over the school improvement plan in an effort to come up with strategies that could be used to ensure there is solid plan that prioritizes safety of the students.