Edmonton mom says school ignoring bullying

Edmonton mother, Barb Laidlaw, says her daughter Caty has been teased and bullied since kindergarten. She is speaking out because she says the school isn't doing enough.

Grade 2 daughter harassed since kindergarten

Edmonton mother, Barb Laidlaw, says her daughter Caty has been teased and bullied since kindergarten. She is speaking out because she says the school isn't doing enough. 2:17

An Edmonton mother who says her young daughter has been repeatedly bullied is speaking out after she says her school refused to intervene.

Barb Laidlaw says Grandin School is not doing enough to keep her six-year-old daughter, Katy, from being bullied. (CBC)
Barb Laidlaw says her Grade 2 daughter, Caty, started to be teased when she was in kindergarten at Grandin School.

"It just started out with one specific child just being a little bit mean in her comments to her. So she would come up and say, 'Oh Caty, you have crazy hair … you dress funny," Laidlaw told CBC News.

Last year, as Caty began Grade 1, things escalated. Laidlaw says Caty returned home over four consecutive days with bruises on her upper arm and leg from being pinched by another female student.

Laidlaw met with Caty's teacher and the principal, but felt her concerns were disregarded and that the teacher did not believe her because she didn't see the incidents.

Laidlaw says the same student continued to harass Caty throughout the year — pinching her, pulling her hair and excluding her from activities. Laidlaw hoped the problem would go away and did not feel comfortable approaching the school again.

"I was very intimidated, actually, because I was just mortified that this was actually happening."

When the bullying started up again this year, Laidlaw asked for another meeting with the principal, but was told nothing could be done because the child responsible had "mental issues" and "behavioural issues."

"I want something done about this so my child is not harmed at school."

District taking issue 'very seriously'

In a statement to CBC News, the Edmonton Catholic School District says it is "taking this issue very seriously."

"We have a series of strategies to successfully resolve this matter and will continue to monitor them," read the statement, attributed to assistant district superintendent of operations Patrick Lema.

Laidlaw said she met with Lema on Thursday, and that a new teacher's aid has been hired and that the school is considering bringing an anti-bullying officer into the classroom.

Alberta's Associate Minister of Family and Community Safety Sandra Jansen said she has heard stories from parents who feel schools aren't doing enough about bullying, but she doubts new legislation is the answer. (CBC)
Meanwhile, the case has attracted attention at the legislature. MLA Sandra Jansen, who was appointed in July by Premier Alison Redford as the associate minister of family and community safety, said she has heard stories from other parents who feel their children's schools have not done enough about incidents of bullying.

"It breaks my heart when I see it. And it happens every day when there's a suicide as a result of a kid being bullied," Jansen told CBC News.

Jansen, who is responsible for addressing cyberbullying, violence against women and sexual exploitation, is studying the possibility of anti-bullying legislation, like the laws recently passed in Manitoba and Ontario.

However, Jansen says a new law isn't the answer.

"You can't legislate an end to bullying. What you can do is begin to work on the kinds of relationships people have so you know what the parameters are for respectful relationships."


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