B.C. teen beaten unconscious feared return to school but says friends and counsellors helped
‘He called me a homophobic slur. He called me the ‘F’ slur and said all Asians are ugly’: Janice Xie
Janice Xie, 14, says she was attacked and beaten unconscious in a school corridor by a 17-year-old student who left her with head injuries and fearful of returning to her Richmond, B.C., high school.
The Grade 9 student at Hugh Boyd Secondary says her attacker punched and insulted her, using racist and homophobic slurs, under the mistaken impression that she'd made comments about another girl liking him.
Xie told CBC that the boy came running at her as she came down the stairs to eat lunch and hit her last Thursday.
"He called me a homophobic slur. He called me the 'F' slur and said all Asians are ugly and that he hates all Asians," Xie told CBC's Belle Puri on Monday.
Teen's parents worried about safety
Xie's parents described feeling stunned by the violent incident inside the Richmond school.
Her father, Tim Sorensen, said no student should have to deal with threats or fear in school.
"We are definitely freaked out."
The teen's father said he was told that other students had to pull the attacker off his daughter who was kicked and punched in the face while lying on the ground.
"It was out of the blue. She didn't really know him at all."
Jordana Sorensen was first alerted to the attack by a call from her younger child and texts from Xie's friend. She was horrified to hear her child had passed out ... twice.
Sorensen said she raced to the school after being told a Grade 11 boy had kicked and punched Xie in the school hallway.
"I couldn't believe it. I always thought that school was safe for the kids — that's why I let her go there," said Sorensen, fighting back sobs.
She says her daughter chose the high school to remain with her good friends, despite it being outside her catchment area.
"I'm sure any parents who have kids [wouldn't] want this to happen."
The RCMP is investigating the incident and met the family at the hospital, taking a statement as the 14-year-old was treated for her injuries, still suffering from dizziness and the effects of a concussion.
Tim Sorensen said he was told by police that the young man would be formally charged with assault.
Richmond RCMP's Cpl. Ian Henderson issued a statement that said the 17-year-old male involved was arrested and released to a legal guardian at the scene.
"Due to privacy concerns and the confines of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Richmond RCMP cannot release further details or the names of those involved," said Henderson.
"We recognize that these types of incidents can have a detrimental effect on an entire school community.
In an email, David Sadler, director of communications for the Richmond School District, told CBC that the school board recognizes its obligation to provide a "positive climate and a safe, healthy environment."
All school community members are expected to conduct themselves in an "ethical, lawful manner that demonstrates respect" for others.
Teen's friends help with return to school
The district confirmed that Richmond RCMP are investigating and said in an email that "further conversations between the parents and school administration occurred" and will continue.
"The district's highest priority is in providing a safe and caring environment to nurture student well-being and ensure that purposeful teaching and learning may take place in our schools," Richmond School Board chair Sandra Nixon in an emailed statement.
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"Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in the Richmond School District. When incidents of this nature are brought to the district's attention, they are addressed immediately in accordance with the district code of conduct."
The provincial Ministry of Education was asked to comment and emailed a statement:
"All students deserve to be welcomed, included and respected in a safe learning environment while being fully and completely themselves. No student should be excluded or bullied because of their race, sexual orientation or gender identity," said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.'s minister of education.
Four days after the incident, Xie said that she was fearful about returning to class
But the teen said she was helped by supportive friends and school counsellors.
"Even though I was scared to go back, my friends made me feel better," said Xie. "Everyone was texting me … they all comforted me and said I can stay with you the whole day if you want and [they'll] walk me to class and they'll just stick by my side."
With files from Belle Puri