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