An Airdrie mother who says her 13-year-old daughter has been the target of persistent and targeted bullying for over a year at Meadowbrook Middle School is speaking out about a disturbing incident that occurred this past Monday, January 16.
According to Sonja, whose last name we have agreed not to use in order to protect her and her daughter's privacy, the Monday incident was precipitated by a melee that had occurred last week between her daughter's friend and another group of youth at the school after school had finished.
"Before these kids were bused out for the afternoon, one of my daughter's friends was being verbally harassed and screamed at by a group of children. What ended up happening over the weekend, was that on social media, this harassment continued," she said. "My daughter stepped in on a group Snapchat and told these kids [back] off."
The incident was filmed and Discover Airdrie was able to view it. Sonja also confirmed that she has sent the videos and the social media comments to the police.
Following her daughter stepping in to defend her friend online, Sonja said that her daughter was subjected to death threats. Discover Airdrie reviewed the screenshotted Snapchats. One of the Snapchat comments discusses shooting an individual in the face, while another comment discusses which types of guns might be used.
Discover Airdrie reached out to the Airdrie RCMP to enquire about how death threats on social media are handled but did not receive a response during the time of publication.
This Monday, Sonja received a phone call from Meadowbrook informing her that her daughter had been involved in an incident.
"They were holding her in the office and when I got there, my daughter was absolutely hysterical. She had been told that if she didn't go to after school on Monday, to Hi- Ho [a gas station] and fight these two girls, then they would come to our house and kill us."
Sonja explained that earlier that day a student had alerted staff of the fact that a fight may erupt between other students. The same student had also alerted Sonja's daughter to the fact that they had allegedly seen one of the youths involved in the fight steal a pair of scissors from the school's sewing room during sewing class. Two videos of the incident on Monday were also recorded.
Airdrie RCMP did confirm that the RCMP is currently investigating this event.
"The Airdrie RCMP is working with Rocky View Schools to address this matter and ensure students are safe. As the investigation is ongoing, I cannot speak to specific details," wrote Cpl. James McConnell with Airdrie RCMP's Community Policing.
When Sonja went to the police to file a statement, she was told that the incident was what police call a consensual fight. According to RCMP, a consensual fight is one in which both parties agree to fight.
A consensual fight is not an assault because both parties accept there will be some physical contact. Persons can agree to apply force to one another however, they cannot consent to bodily harm. Although it is possible in law to have a consensual fight, the City of Airdrie has a fighting by-law prohibiting fighting.
According to statistics provided by Airdrie RCMP, one charge was laid in 2022 under the city fighting by-law. Zero charges were laid in 2021 and 2019, while another charge was laid in 2020.
While Sonja said the RCMP was sympathetic to her daughter, she does feel there isn't enough being done to address bullying, from both the policing side and from the staff and administration at the school. She said that the bullying her daughter experienced began last year.
"I feel like I talked to [the school] them every week regarding the bullying in seventh grade. It was exhausting and they told me it's all about conflict resolution and that these are hormonal teenagers and we need to teach them conflict resolution skills," she said. "It feels like a lot of lip service and nothing is actually going to happen."
While Rocky View Schools said it could not share information related to its students or families, it did provide a statement regarding how they deal with bullying in schools, stating that they take all threats of violence in schools seriously and have protocols and procedures in place to keep students and staff safe.
"With the safety and overall well-being of our students and staff as our focus, the school may engage other supports from the division and/or the RCMP. Every situation is unique, and we develop responses tailored to the specific situation. RVS strongly encourages any student or parent/guardian who has concerns about their child’s safety at school to bring them to the school’s administration," the statement read.
Following Monday's incident, the school told Sonja that they felt that her daughter should not come to school until a safety plan is in place.
"The safety plan is that [my daughter and them] don't share any classes and that my daughter shouldn't leave the campus for lunch," Sonja said. "She told me she was too scared to go to school because these girls are going to find her in the bathroom and 'chiv' her. How do you manage that? I don't know. I don't have an answer. I'm just appalled."
Sonja said she will continue to press for charges being laid in the Monday incident. She also said that if she could speak directly to the parents of the other youths involved, she would pointedly ask them if this kind of behaviour is what one wants to see from the future generation.
"Are these types of humans that we want to raise to run this world? That's what we're doing as parents - we are raising the kids. They're going to be in charge of this world in 20 years. Is this what we want to put out there?"
Prior to the incident at Meadowbrook middle school earlier this week, Airdrie RCMP also confirmed that they were investigating a robbery across the street from W.H. Croxford High School in which a student from that school was robbed and three other students who also attended the school and were involved, in the incident were arrested.
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