Bikers escort bullied 10-year-old boy to school
Published Wednesday, June 21, 2017 8:04AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 21, 2017 5:21PM EDT
Flanked by two lines of tough-looking bikers clad in leather, a 10-year-old boy made quite the entrance at Harbourside Elementary School in Sydney, N.S. on Wednesday morning.
Wearing a leather vest himself, Xander Rose strolled towards his school’s front doors with an entourage of bikers set on delivering a message: bullying is not okay.
Dozens of bikers from across Nova Scotia heeded a call to action by U.S. children’s advocacy group Defenders of Children to help out the struggling Grade 4 student who has been bullied by classmates for years.
Xander’s mother said her son, who is indigenous, has been the target of racial slurs, insults about his looks and even death threats by other students.
Katie Laybolt said she reached out to the advocacy organization after repeated complaints to school and community authorities didn’t stop the bullying.
The recent spate of teen suicides in Nova Scotia, with three young people dying by suicide in a span of six months, made the mother concerned for her child’s safety.
“I didn’t want my child’s name to become another one on that list. And that’s where it felt it was going,” Laybolt told CTV Atlantic. “We were seeing him withdraw. He didn’t want to come to school, he didn’t want to come out of his bedroom most days.”
The members of various bike clubs including the Cape Breton Bike Rally and Bay Boys Motorcycle Club, congregated in a grocery store parking lot in Sydney, N.S. early Wednesday morning before riding to Xander’s home to pick him up.
Xander rode on the back of one of the motorcycles, waving to onlookers lining the streets of Whitney Pier as the large progression, filling up an entire lane, made their way to Harbourside Elementary School.
Once they arrived, the bikers walked the 10-year-old boy from the parking lot to the school’s front doors while watchers applauded.
Xander appeared relaxed and content as he strode through the parking lot accompanied by his new friends.
The boy said that the past school year was “rough,” but he hopes his message of resilience will have a ripple effect.
“It’s good, because I think from me getting all this help and support, I can also spread it to help others,” he said.
Concerns have been raised about an upswing in bullying in Cape Breton schools. A spokesperson for the Cape Breton – Victoria Regional School Board disagreed and said necessary supports for students are in place.
“I think that we’re going to need to really carefully monitor how we provide services to all students. I think that that’s going to be a challenge moving forward,” said school board chair Darren Googoo.
But Xander’s mother accused the school of not doing enough to help kids like her son.
“We’re not going to see any real change. If you can’t admit there’s a real issue, you can’t fix it,” she said.
One of the bikers involved in organizing the ride, Mike Basso, told CTV Atlantic on Wednesday morning that Xander will be able to look to his biker brothers and sisters for help whenever he needs it.
“His family has grown, I wouldn’t even say tenfold, I’d say thousand-fold,” Basso said. “My brothers in B.C. are talking about it out there. The message is getting out finally.”
Xander will reunite with the biking community next month when he and his family volunteer at a bike rally in Sydney, N.S.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore
Dozens of bikers are lined up to take 10 year old Xander Rose to school. A show of support against bullying pic.twitter.com/O8W5IZc9dJ— Kyle Moore (@KyleMooreCTV) June 21, 2017