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Why doesn't this girl want to go to school? (updated)

Friday, November 30, 2012   by: Carol Martin

Editor's note: SooToday.com has set up a message board for our readers to leave comments of support and encouragement for the girl in the story below.

You can also send your notes, cards and letters to her by mailing them to us at 123 March Street, Suite 505, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2Z5.

We'll make sure she gets them.

Click here to go to our message board of support.

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Today, a nine-year old girl who used to like school woke up dreading the bus ride to come.

She doesn't want to go to school any more.

She doesn't trust anyone there and she feels ashamed of telling the truth, says her father.

She's a student in one of the Algoma District School Board schools and we can't tell you which one because that may identify her.

On November 8 she came home and told her parents about how the boy who sits next to her in her class grabbed her private parts.

"We asked her to show us what he did on one of her teddy bears," says her father. "There's no way she could be making this up."

When the boy, who is also nine, wouldn't leave her alone she went to the teacher and told her that boy wouldn't stop grabbing at her.

The teacher moved the little girl's chair far from the boy's chair and told her to settle down but the boy had a melt down. 

"He started to cry and was making her (the girl) feel bad for telling," says the girl's father. "He was crying that he just wanted to sit beside her."

And things went downhill from there.

There was no phone call from the school telling the parents about the incident.

Next morning the parents called the school to find out what was going to be done to make sure this didn't happen to their daughter again.

The principal's initial response was that he needed to get all the information and would call them back as soon as he had the full story of what happened.

Later in the day the principal called the parents and told them the situation had been dealt with.

"He said the teachers left the boy in the office for the rest of the day after the incident in class with our daughter and that he (the principal) had talked to the boy about his actions being inappropriate," said the father.

But the boy, who lives near the girl, chased her home from the bus stop after school that day.

He's threatened her, other children in their class and, since the incident, other parents have said he touched their daughters inappropriately, too.

All the parents want is to know their daughter will be safe at school.

The parents are adamant that the boy sexually assaulted their daughter and they want to make sure it isn't going to happen again.

They went to the Children's Aid Society (CAS), the police and the school board to try to make that happen.

"The police said they can't do anything about it because of the boy's age," said the father. "CAS said they made a record of the incident but weren't going to get involved. They said it's up to the school to handle the issue."

Meanwhile, over the four school days this all took to transpire, the boy moved on to harassing other girls in the class.

"Our daughter said she heard the boy telling the other boys in class that he would just get another girl and that he couldn't wait to see them all in their pajamas on pajama day on Friday," said the father.

This was confirmed by another girl in the class.

The next day, the girl's mother was at the bus stop to meet her daughter as she got off the bus.

"The boy was behind her in the line," she said. "I heard him tell her that she eats garbage."

The boy doesn't sit beside the girl anymore but he makes it a point to harass her during outdoor breaks.

The parents have seen or heard nothing from the school board or the school indicating any more than they feel the issue has been dealt with and is closed.

They also talked with the boy's father at the bus stop one morning when the children were boarding the bus.

He told them the principal said his son touched their daughter's shoulder, not that he had grabbed her private parts.

This was a week after the initial incident.

Later that same day the boy tried to kiss the girl.

She said she didn't want to tell the principal because she didn't like how he yelled at her when he asked her questions and how he kept asking her the same questions over and over but just in different ways.

10 days after the little girl came home feeling like she had done the right thing by telling her teacher and parents when a boy in her class groped her between the legs and tried to grab her chest, the school board administration sat down with the parents, the principal and an OPP officer to get to the bottom of things.

"They kept saying there had been no sexual assault and the situation had been dealt with," said the father, who also audio taped the meeting, with everyone's consent.

"At one point the board superintendent turned to the police officer and asked her to confirm for us that it could not be sexual assault because the boy was too young," said the father. 

"The superintendent's face dropped when the police officer said that it was sexual assault," he said.

It's been three weeks since the incident and the girl's father said nothing has changed at the school.

If anything, the boy has become more brazen.

Neither the board nor the school have responded to the families' request for a plan to protect their daughter from this boy.

The girl feels like it's all her fault.

She feels like she can't trust any of the adults at the school and she should have just kept quiet because they treat her differently, now. 

The parents have run out of options and feel helpless to help their daughter deal with the situation.

At the age of nine, this little girl lost her innocence.

Not to a nine-year old boy, but to a school system that failed to protect her or to support her when she did what they said she should do and told them what the boy did to her, say her parents.

SooToday.com tried to contact the Algoma District School Board Superintendent of Education who has been involved in this case but have yet to receive a response.

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