EDITORIAL: Community efforts needed to help kids feel safe from bullying
Everyone can use a hero. Thankfully, Sydney’s Xander Rose got more than 100 of them.
Ten-year-old Xander was the target of bullies at Harbourside Elementary School where he was a Grade 4 student. The bullies attacked him over his race and size.
Xander's heroes came on two wheels and wore leather vests instead of capes.
Cape Breton biker Mike Basso stepped in to organize a rally in support of Xander after the boy’s mother, desperate for help, reached out to a non-profit U.S.-based advocacy group called Defenders of Children. The group aims to ensure safety in all areas of children’s lives, family situations, school playgrounds, internet chat rooms, etc.
Bullying in schools and cyberbullying were cited as culprits in Cape Breton after three tragic deaths of students in the Cape Breton-Victoria School board. Those deaths included a 13-year-old girl who killed herself on Father’s Day.
Xander has been bullied for years. His mother said racial slurs and sexual comments escalated this year and made things unbearable for her son.
There were even reports that Xander had been jumped on the school bus, had his clothing ripped and was told to go and die in a hole.
About 150 bikers showed up to support Xander, including many from the local Bay Boys Motorcycle Club. Several residents of the Whitney Pier neighbourhood gathered to line the streets and watch the rally of support.
The theme of support is being picked up by some Cape Breton firefighters. North Sydney fire chief Lloyd MacIntosh recently told CBC that young people trying to flee a crisis could seek refuge at their local fire station.
“If they come to our door and say, ‘Somebody’s chasing me, somebody’s bullying me, I had to get out of my house,’ then you can come here, and we can call the appropriate agency,” said MacIntosh.
He said the fire department makes sense because it’s staffed 24 hours a day.
Shaelene Lafosse, who organized a community meeting about bullying, issued a plea for people and organizations in the community to help young people feel safe.
Thanks to a caring group of bikers, Xander, thankfully, now knows he is not alone.
Kudos to them for stepping up and onto their bikes to support a shaken 10-year-old.
Anyone being bullied needs a safe haven and needs to know they are not alone.
We can all step up as heroes for those who are being bullied. No capes or tights required.