Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Justice for Ian

On Tuesday, September 29 just before sunset, the body of 11-year old Ian Gibson was laid to rest in the graveyard of St. Martin's Anglican Church. While the death of one so young is always tragic, in Ian's case it is even more tragic.

According to news reports, Ian's death was as a result of a sustained campaign of terror unleashed on him by two older boys. These bullies first targetted Ian at primary school, and Ian's father Victor Cadogan removed him from that school and sent him to a private institution.

Unfortunately, when Ian entered secondary school a few weeks ago, he encountered the same two bullies again. After Victor went to the school to complain about the boys' behaviour towards his son, they beat Ian so badly that he had an asthma attack.

Police were called in, the boys were warned, their parents notified. All to no avail. Two weeks ago, while trying to outrun the bullies, Ian ran blindly across the street and was struck by a car. He died a few days later at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

I did not know Ian Gibson, nor do I know his father Victor Cadogan, but when I read how this young boy died I could not help but cry. As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain Victor Gibson feels at losing his child, especially in such a senseless manner.

For most persons who survived the high school system, bullying was almost a right of passage, to be endured and forgotten once school life was over. However, many carry the scars of that abuse for life, and Ian paid for it with his.

So now we must decide - do we turn our attention to the next news story to make the headlines or demand justice for this young boy? I vote the latter, because what happened to Ian Gibson should be prevented from happening to another child in Barbados or elsewhere.

We need to reinforce to the powers that be the need to devise some kind of policy or rules to stamp out these violent acts in schools. Teachers must have the authority to discipline students whom they see abusing others, instead of being tied up in red tape and having to "wait on the Ministry".

Sure, the whole sordid episode has made bullying in schools a national debate, but what good will that do the loved ones Ian left behind? That's why I'm asking, if you condemn these act of violence in schools, make your feelings known in the comments section. I'll be emailing this post to as many persons as possible for their signatures and hopefully we can make a start in getting some justice for Ian.

Join Victor Cadogan's campaign to stamp out bullying in schools. Email your comments to Comments will be printed and presented to PM David Thompson.

Image: The casket bearing Ian Gibson's body proceeding through a guard of honour at St. Martin's Anglican Church (Nation

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