Advocates say a disturbing video showing a Cape Breton teen’s classmates walking over him in a stream demonstrates how the lives of people with disabilities are often devalued. A screengrab from the video posted to Facebook is shown in a handout. (Facebook)

School bullying video shows how people with disabilities are devalued: advocates

Brett Corbett, who has cerebral palsy, is seen in a video being stepped while lying in water

Advocates say a disturbing video showing a Cape Breton teen’s classmate walking over him in a stream demonstrates how the lives of people with disabilities are often devalued.

Brett Corbett, who has cerebral palsy, told his mother Terri McEachern that he has forgiven the bullies who apologized to him, but he still feels unsafe returning to his high school.

His story has captured the world’s attention, and John Rae of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities said Corbett may have grounds for a human rights complaint against his school.

“It shows how the lives of people with disabilities are devalued,” Rae said.

The 14-year-old boy’s family saw the video, but it didn’t become public until a girl posted it on social media to counter those who said the incident didn’t happen.

The video shows Corbett lying down in a stream surrounded by other students. A girl steps on his back to cross while at least 20 other students stand back and watch, some filming with their phones.

A video posted to Facebook on Nov. 8 has since been viewed more than 490,000 times. The story has been picked up by international media outlets, and people around the world have shared their outrage.

For Rob Benn-Frenette, Corbett’s story hit especially close to home.

Benn-Frenette founded the anti-bullying charity and website Bullying Canada after years of harassment and bullying over his cerebral palsy while growing up in New Brunswick.

His organization hears from a number of youth with disabilities who are victims of bullying. Individuals often reach out to Bullying Canada after exhausting other options in trying to deal with a pattern of abuse.

“Sadly, young people with disabilities face a tough world, much harsher than it needs to be. They are no strangers to violence, and they share that with us on a regular basis,” Benn-Frenette said in an email.

Benn-Frenette said it’s vital that parents talk to the youths involved, as these adolescent experience can have lifelong impacts. Bullying Canada hears from adults in their 80s who are still haunted from their experiences with bullying.

“Bullying often has long-term consequences that never abate. From first-hand experience I can tell you that nightmares can be part of your life well into your adult years, if not forever,” he said.

The video has prompted an outpouring of support for Corbett.

The Special Olympics posted a video on Twitter in support of Corbett, featuring athletes like figure skater Michelle Kwan and Special Olympics board member Matthew Williams speaking out against the incident and against the abuse of people with disabilities.

Benn-Frenette says the video shows a startling and violent incident, but it’s just one example of a wider problem that is often invisible — and increasingly so as cyber-bullying becomes more prevalent.

Gordana Skrba of the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy said children with the disability mostly feel supported by their schools — but acknowledged children with disabilities are often targets of bullying.

“Children with physical disabilities can be at a greater risk to be bullied,” Skrba said.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education issued a statement last week saying the school and regional police are investigating the incident.

Another statement this week said the school would conduct a restorative practice process involving the school community, staff and parents.

Benn-Frenette said the importance of witnesses speaking out is essential to stopping future incidents.

According to a 2001 Queen’s University study on peer intervention in bullying, more than half of bullying incidents stop within 10 seconds after a bystander steps in.

“The main takeaway is to be unafraid to intercede,” Benn-Frenette said.

“We must empower people to come forward. It’s the only way we’ll combat this issue.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Pirates hockey team add tally to win column

The Pirates won versus the Westlock Warriors on Dec. 9

Another successful year for the Sylvan Lake Charity Check stop

The annual charity drive took place on Dec. 8 on 47 Avenue between Shoppers and McDonald’s.

Spray Park Committee hosting kid friendly New Year’s Eve party

The Sylvan Lake Spray Park Committee is hosting the Kids Countdown Party fundraiser on Dec. 31

Sylvan Lake Grade 6 students learn about municipal government first-hand

Grade 6 students are learning about municipal government and attended Monday’s Council meeting

PHOTOS: A unique set up for Sylvan Lake’s most recent Christmas market

The first annual Stocking Stuffer Market was held on Dec. 8 in the NexSource Centre

Retired B.C. teacher a YouTube Sudoku sensation

A retired Kelowna teacher has amassed quite the following online by teaching the art of solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Trudeau names four new senators, filling every seat in the Senate

Trudeau has appointed 49 senators since becoming prime minister and will have the chance to appoint more in 2019

Judge gives Michael Cohen 3 years in prison

Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion

Humboldt Broncos, cannabis, Fortnite: Here are Canadians’ top Google searches for 2018

When celebrities died or Canada Post went on strike, Canada turned to Google

Condominium market still ‘a lot better’ than normal in Vancouver suburbs

The Fraser Valley, east of Metro Vancouver, has long been considered a more affordable haven for first-time homebuyers.

UN chief returns as climate talks teeter closer to collapse

Predictions from international climate expert, warn that global warming is set to do irreversible environmental damage.

Trump’s willingness to intervene in Meng detention roils Canada’s justification

The International Crisis Group said Tuesday, Dec. 11 it’s aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig has been detained.

Scientist awarded $100K for work on Arctic contaminants that led to ban

Derek Muir has received the $100,000 Weston Family Prize for his research that showed those carcinogens were able to move into the Arctic.

Most Read