8 girls charged in London, Ont. bullying case
Published Friday, October 19, 2012 7:33AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 19, 2012 10:19PM EDT
Eight teenage girls are facing criminal harassment charges stemming from a bullying investigation at a London, Ont. high school.
The girls were arrested after it was revealed that a student at London South Collegiate Institute was the target of physical, emotional and cyber bullying, police said.
“Some (bullying) did involve the Internet, some was verbal face-to-face contact, and some was physical,” said Const. Dennis Rivest.
The suspects were charged with criminal harassment and police said more charges could be laid as the investigation continues. They could also be expelled from school after officials there conduct their own investigation.
The eight teens were released from custody on a promise to appear in court. The identities of the suspects and the victim cannot be released under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Police said information about the case was gathered via a school’s website through the portal “South Cares” – an online reporting tool where students can anonymously share concerns about themselves and their peers.
“Because individuals came forward, directly and anonymously, the London Police Service and the Thames Valley District School Board were able to support the victim, ensure the victim was safe, and then address the bullying behaviour,” reads a statement issued by police Thursday.
A London South Collegiate Institute student told CTV London on Friday that he has noticed more cases of bullying coming to light.
“Since the beginning of Grade 10, I’ve noticed a lot more reported cases of bullying going around the school, and that wasn’t here when I was in Grade 9,” he said.
The issue of cyber bullying was thrust into the spotlight last week following the death of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd, who took her own life following years of vicious and unrelenting bullying.
A month before her death, Todd posted a YouTube video chronicling the bullying she endured over several months.
On Friday, one mother at the London, Ont., school had Todd in mind.
“I’m just thankful that we have eight girls that are being charged and we don’t have another suicide on our hands,” she said.
Todd’s story has captured worldwide attention. On Friday, a number of schools and groups planned to pay tribute to the Port Coquitlam, B.C., teen and condemn bullying.
Following news of Todd’s death, a New Democrat MP introduced a motion calling for the creation of a House of Commons committee to develop a national bullying prevention strategy. The strategy would examine the prevalence and impact of bullying and look for ways to prevent it.
In Toronto, about a quarter million students observed a minute of silence Friday morning to reflect on victims of bullying across the country.
With a report from CTV’s John Vennavally-Rao and files from The Canadian Press