A Maple Ridge mother says her son is being bullied at school and not enough is being done to stop the harassment.
Ashley Belmas published a post on social media saying, “Enough is enough! I’m done with the situation,” about the bullying her seven-year-old son, Bryson, has endured over the past two years.
It started when Bryson was in Grade 1 at Laity View Elementary, by a student in Grade 2 in the same class.
Bryson has a deleted chromosome, which means his development was delayed. He started talking late, walking late and had other late developmental milestones. Currently he is smaller than other students in his class, and his speech is not as advanced.
In February 2020, Belmas recalls Bryson coming home sad from school, saying a student in his class was angry at him.
“His anxiety started spiking, and I had no idea, obviously, what was causing it. He didn’t want to go to school,” explained Belmas.
Then, she said there was an incident where Bryson was confronted by the student in a school bathroom. He was told to pull down his pants, while other students laughed.
Bryson’s educational assistant rushed into the bathroom to stop the situation. Even though school officials knew about the incident, Belmas didn’t learn about it until she got home with Bryson.
“I didn’t know until we were at home, and Bryson started crying his eyes out,” said Belmas, who was told by her son that he hid in a corner.
Soon after this incident came spring break and then COVID-19 closed schools for the rest of the school year.
When the new year started, Belmas was upset to learn that Bryson would again be in the same class as the other student.
She informed his teacher at the beginning of the year about the issues they were having, and was satisfied the teacher was initially having success keeping the two students apart. But as the year wore on, new incidents started happening.
In December, just before Bryson’s seventh birthday, the boy pushed Bryson while playing a game with him, and Bryson hit the back of his head on a pole, producing a large bump.
Belmas picked him up and took him to the doctor who advised her to watch for signs of a concussion.
Another day, while Bryson was showing a new toy to a friend, the student approached the friends and grabbed the toy, breaking it, and then threw it back at the two boys before walking off, said Belmas.
In another incident Bryson ended up with a large scratch on his neck when the boy tried to wrestle a pencil out of Bryson’s hand.
And this year, she said, there have been so many more incidents.
“It’s a daily, weekly ritual,” she complained.
On Feb. 4, the boy drew spots on the underside of Bryson’s hoodie when he wasn’t looking.
On Feb. 23, Belmas says, Bryson was wrestled, punched and forcefully taken off the monkey bars by the student.
The following day, Pink Shirt Day, a day where Canadians unite against bullying, he was kicked in the face by the student.
“I guess he was trying to climb up and this kid was already on the platform so he kicked him in the mouth, and made it bleed and says, “I don’t like you”, and runs away,” Belmas continued.
School District 42 confirmed a parent had reached out to the school principal late last week about her child’s experiences with a classmate.
The principal recognized the seriousness of the complaint and began a review to gain a full understanding of the situation and to best determine how the concerns might be addressed, advised Irena Pochop with the school district.
“While we cannot speak to situations involving specific students, the school is committed to ensuring there is appropriate follow-up,” Pochop said, adding they will provide any support needed, including the involvement of their Safe and Caring Schools staff and their Early Learning district principal.
The district encourages families to follow a problem solving process when concerns arise, continued Pochop. It begins with bringing the concern to the attention of the classroom teacher. If it is not addressed, to then to take it directly to the school principal. If it is still not addressed then the next step, is to go to the assistant superintendent responsible for the zone in which the child’s school is located.
“Although there are additional steps beyond these, the vast majority of concerns are resolved at one of these three levels,” she added.
Belmas met with school officials on Tuesday, whom, she said, addressed her concerns and ackowledged her son was hurting.
And, she added, they are willing to work with her to get him the help and supports that her son needs.
“They are changing some schedules around and we are doing a reintegration to his classroom next week,” said the elated mother, who was hoping the boys could be separated, without Bryson having to leave his class.
“He has grown so much over the last year, academically, because his teacher seems to be that good for him. I would be afraid for him to lose that,” she said.
Belmas wishes the school had taken her complaints seriously when her son first hit his head on the pole. Or even when the bathroom incident happened.
Bryson, she says, doesn’t have issues with any other students.
“He used to love going to school,” said Belmas. “Now it’s hard trying to convince him he’ll be OK and protected at school.”
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