Teen Punished for Stopping a Knife-Wielding Bully From Attacking a Student
Briar MacLean made a split-second decision at school last week.
Sitting in class in Calgary, he heard some students start to bully another student. Briar told Canada’s National Post that he saw one boy put another boy in a headlock. Then Briar, who attends Sir John A. Macdonald Junior High School, heard the flick of a knife.
He wasn’t trying to play a hero when he pushed the knife-wielding bully away from his classmate. But school officials accused him of exactly that. His mother, Leah O’Donnell, said that the school’s vice-principal told her that the school doesn’t “condone heroics” and a teacher should always be called in such situations.
Briar was reprimanded for helping out his fellow student. The bully was suspended and the police were called.
Some bullying experts say that the school should be commending—not punishing—Briar for his actions.
“By reprimanding Briar, the administration is demonstrating to bullies that students who intervene will be reprimanded,” Richard Brenner, author of 101 Tips for Targets of Workplace Bullies, told TakePart. “This can only encourage bullies.”
Brenner said the school appears to have its own problems since it was possible for “a bully to engage a target with a teacher in the room.”
He added, “This administration is sorely in need of some education about bullying policy.”
Areva Martin, a lawyer, is the founder and president of Special Needs Network, Inc., a Los Angeles-based organization created specifically to raise awareness of issues that impact individuals with autism and related disabilities. She says that as many as two-thirds of a classroom may be bullied.