Girl, 8, threatened with serious sexual assault at elementary school
Published Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7:11PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, October 29, 2019 7:12PM CST
A Winnipeg family is unhappy with how school officials responded after a serious incident involving an eight-year-old girl.
The girl was approached by two other elementary students during lunchtime and threatened with serious sexual assault.
She hasn’t been to school for a number of weeks because she was traumatized.
“I don’t feel comfortable there,” she told CTV News.
The girl's family said she was assaulted at Donwood Elementary School after two boys approached her and made a threat.
“They went up to her, and said to her, that they were going to rape her,” said the girl’s mother.
Then during the lunch hour, they grabbed her by the door as she was making her way outside.
"They held her against her will and they would not allow her to run to a teacher or to tell a teacher when she tried,” said the girl’s sister.
The girl's mother said they eventually let her go.
“I'm scared they are going to do this to someone else. I think they need counselling or something like that,” she said.
The girl’s sister said there should have been better supervision, and wants more community resources for the girl to get needed support and therapy.
“Why wasn't there anybody there to protect her?” she said.
"Division moved quickly on the incident": River East Transcona School Division
Kelly Barkman is the superintendent and CEO of River East Transcona School Division.
In an emailed statement to CTV News, Barkman said the school met with the girl, her mother, along with the other students and their parents and/or guardians.
He said the school agreed to a request from the mom to transfer the girl to a different classroom, then offered to transfer her to a different school where she be unlikely to see the other two students once they got older and moved on to a middle school.
“The safety plan, the division’s Safe, Caring and Respectful Schools and the Violence Threat Risk Assessment policy all were invoked to keep the girl safe. The safety plan for the students involved includes direct supervision when they are in unstructured times (e.g., recess and lunch),” he said.
“The division moved quickly on the incident and took it very seriously. There is no tolerance for this type of behaviour and policies exist to respond and prevent future incidents,” Barkman said.
“Please be assured that supports are in place for all involved,” he said.
"It’s not fair" victim leaving school: Psychologist
The girl's mother said the boys were suspended for two weeks, and her daughter is starting a new school soon.
Tracy Vaillancourt is a Canada research chair in children's mental health and violence prevention. She said what happened is shocking and too often victims are the ones who have to leave their environment.
“It’s not fair and it’s always what happens. It’s so frustrating,” said Vaillancourt in an interview with CTV News.
“Why do victims, targets, have to be the ones that leave their environment. So they are the ones that are terrorized and they are the ones that have to make new friends and have new teachers,” she added.
"The fact that she has to start another school all over again. The fact that she is physically sick from thinking about stepping out or going out in the community again, hurts,” said the girl’s mother.
The girl's mom said her daughter is doing better, but finds talking about what happened still really hard. She wants elementary kids educated about how to handle threatening situations.
Vaillancourt said it appears the school took the incident seriously and appropriately, and because of privacy issues could be doing more with the boys that we may not know about.
Vaillancourt agreed some form of counselling is needed, as well as ongoing supports for the boys and girl involved.
She said if it's an isolated incident, it’s important there is an expression of remorse on the part of the boys and to move on. If its pointing to a pattern of behaviour, that would require a different approach, Vaillancourt said.