Education minister asks school board to review response to Rehtaeh Parsons case

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METRO HALIFAX

Rehtaeh Parsons is shown in a handout photo from the Facebook tribute page "Angel Rehtaeh."

HALIFAX - The provincial education minister has asked the Halifax Regional School Board to review its handling of the case of a Cole Harbour teen who was allegedly raped and then bullied into taking her own life.

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, died in hospital on Sunday, several days after hanging herself. Her family says she was relentlessly persecuted by friends and schoolmates after being raped by four boys – and photographed during the crime.

The photo was then spread around her school, and although police investigated, no charges were laid.\

On Wednesday, Parsons father, Glen Canning, posted a blog about his daughter’s death. It can be read here.

“As you know, I know there’s nothing worse that can happen in a family,” said a visibly emotional Ramona Jennex on Wednesday. “We’re going to be seeing what we can do to make sure that this situation hopefully never happens again, and we’re going to do everything that we can within the department to respond.”

An HRSB spokesperson said Wednesday that officials at Cole Harbour High were notified of the photos in question by police, but never saw them.

HRSB Superintendant Judy White said she’ll be directly involved in the wide-ranging review.

“We’ll have a look at what are the kinds of things we…tried to do to support her and to look at where the gaps might be and can we learn anything from that situation,” she said.

Premier Darrell Dexter said earlier in the day a “comprehensive review” is needed to find out what, if anything, could have been done to prevent Rehtaeh’s death.

“It is so extraordinarily, deeply disturbing,” he said. “I’m horrified by the idea that there could be a dismissal of things like the transmission of photographs that depict a crime.”

Dexter suggested discussions may be needed with the federal government to add new technology-related crimes to the Criminal Code.

“I think we all acknowledge that technology has taken over in a way that many of us could not have anticipated even five years ago, never mind 10 years ago,” he said.

Liberal education critic Karen Casey said she’d tried to amend the province’s anti-bullying legislation with a similar provision about 18 months ago.

“So there’s been two years gone by when there could have been the dialogue that the premier is now talking about,” she said.

RUTH DAVENPORT - METRO HALIFAX

Organizations: Halifax Regional School Board

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Recent comments

  • Allison Smith
    April 19, 2013 - 16:53

    I've been following this story for a while, and I see the same people over and over, trashing the provincial government. All it's doing is deflecting from the real issue, which is that rape and bullying exists, and it's preventable. We should be talking about what a tragedy this is, and how we as a community can stop it from happening again. More solutions, less blaming.

  • Cate
    April 12, 2013 - 16:43

    I think it's time to set an example. Parsons/Canning should take the school board to court for not protecting their child. At the same time take Mr. Landry , the RCMP and anyone else involved in not protecting Rehtaeh. It won't bring her back but it will send a strong message to the justice system that people are fed up with the way they handle or should I say, don't handle rape, abuse and bullying. Then take the relentless bullies to court too , they can also be charged.. Surely there are a few lawyers around that could do this pro bono, with some help from the law students they hire every summer. .

  • Meredith Swiminar
    April 11, 2013 - 10:39

    TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

  • Senior
    April 11, 2013 - 10:11

    Isn't hindsight wonderful,you should be ashamed