About 50 students and adults rallied outside a high school in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Tuesday, calling for an end to bullying after a teen with cerebral palsy was used as a human bridge to cross a stream earlier this month, reports said.
Brett Corbett, 14, of Glace Bay, was seen bullied and taunted in a video that went viral. Students hurled profanities at the teen, and called on him to lie face-down in the creek outside Glace Bay High School.
"I was freezing. ... No one tried to help me," Brett told Global News.
Signs at Tuesday's rally read “Step up so others don’t get stepped on,” and “Stop bullying! We Stand with Brett!”
Boxer Ryan Rozicki, from Sydney, Nova Scotia, made an appearance at the rally. He said could relate to how Brett was mistreated, the CBC reported.
"I was a victim myself and it definitely changed my life and I ended up making the most of it," Rozicki said. "It's just not right."
Rally organizer Dionne Dermody said she has firsthand experience working with people who have cerebral palsy.
"To see Brett hurt like that really pulled at my heart,” she told the CBC.
"To see Brett hurt like that really pulled at my heart.”
In a blistering editorial Tuesday, the Chronicle Herald of Halifax placed a lot of the blame on school officials.
"The obvious lack of respect for a fellow human — in this case, someone “different” due to his cerebral palsy — in the Glace Bay High School video is a signal that whatever that school’s doing regarding bullying, it’s clearly not working on some students," the newspaper wrote. "Yes, respect should be taught at home. But as we know, not all parents are up to the task.
"So it’s schools’ responsibility to demand that students behave as civilized members of society. If that requires remedial education for some, so be it."
"It’s schools’ responsibility to demand that students behave as civilized members of society. If that requires remedial education for some, so be it."
Jim Ellsworth, father of one of the students who allegedly bullied Brett, formally apologized over the weekend and said his son took responsibility for what he did, the CBC reported.
"This was an awful, awful situation that nobody should have to endure," Ellsworth told the news network.
Brett said he has accepted the apologies, but wants all bullying to stop, the CBC reported.
"When I return to school it better change," he said. "Not a lot of kids getting bullied, and if they do I want people to stick up for them."
What has amazed Corbett’s mother, Terri McEachern, the most is her son’s forgiveness for those who abused him, she told the Washington Post.
“It’s just breaking my heart. ... This is his mind-set. ... Children with disabilities have the most amazing gifts in the world. They don’t see bad in anyone. They see so much good in everybody."
“It’s just breaking my heart. ... This is his mind-set,” she said. “Children with disabilities have the most amazing gifts in the world. They don’t see bad in anyone. They see so much good in everybody."
McEachern was still not satisfied with the outcome.
She said that the students involved in the bullying incident received only a light punishment and school officials were not doing enough to support her son, the CBC reported.
"The school doesn't seem to be doing anything, and just, 'Don't be doing that again,'" she said. "This is what they do, it was a tap on the hand, don't do it again."
McEachern said she intends to launch a formal complaint.
The school district, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education, said last week that it was taking the incident seriously, CTV reported.
“The behavior of the students involved is not one that the Centre for Education is proud of,” the school district wrote in a statement. “Both the school and administration are presently investigating the incident.”
Cape Breton Regional Police are also investigating the incident, the school district said, the Chronicle Herald of Halifax reported, adding that the students engaged in “unacceptable and very disappointing behavior.”
About 20 students walked out of classes at the high school Friday to protest the bullying incident and the school’s lack of action in combating a “serious problem” of bullying at the campus, the Herald reported.
“The school likes to sweep everything under the rug and pretend that it didn’t happen,” Kenna MacKinnon, 18, a Grade 12 student who helped organize the protest, told the paper. “So, we’re just here to stand up for what’s right and be the voice for all the kids that don’t have one.”