Rehtaeh Parsons case sparks calls for action
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:09PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 7:35PM ADT
As the news of Rehtaeh Parsons’ death spreads across the country and around the globe, people are demanding to know why no one has been held accountable for her death.
Countless facebook groups and online petitions are popping up in support of Rehtaeh and asking for justice.
“It should take a village to bring these people to justice, no matter who they are, how old they are,” says Eastern Passage, N.S. resident Gay MacKay. “This is just disgusting.”
MacKay was particularly touched by Rehtaeh’s story, and has organized a candlelight vigil for the teen.
“I am sorry, but I think the school should be held partially responsible, negligence, something,” says MacKay. “This isn’t going to be the end, and kids feel so hopeless. They feel so alone and hopeless.”
Leah Parsons says her 17-year-old daughter committed suicide after months of bullying and harassment.
She says Rehtaeh was raped by four boys she went to school with in November 2011 and that a photo of the incident was sent around Cole Harbour High School.
Police investigated the alleged assault but determined there was insufficient evidence to lay charges. Police also told school officials about the photo, but in the end, no one was held accountable.
“They never saw any evidence of a photo,” says Doug Hadley, spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board.
“They didn’t know of anyone speaking about a photo and because the police investigation was going on, they didn’t want to actively get involved at the risk of compromising or complicating an investigation into a very serious alleged crime.”
“I think it’s very important that they recognize discipline within a school structure does not have to await the conclusion of the criminal process,” says Wayne MacKay, chair of Nova Scotia’s Cyberbullying Task Force.
MacKay released a report to the province on cyberbullying. He fears if nothing changes, teens like Rehtaeh will continue to feel helpless.
“As a society and a government with various government institutions, we are responsible to do everything we can to prevent this,” says MacKay.
Students at Prince Andrew High School – the school Rehtaeh transferred to after being bullied at Cole Harbour High – are shocked and saddened by her sudden death.
“We should all remember her and keep her in our hearts that, even though maybe we didn’t know her, that maybe you see someone beside you and you think that they’re going through a hard time, just to talk to them,” says student Jessica Parsons.
Meanwhile, social media sites are also filling with accusations and allegations about who is responsible for Rehtaeh’s death, prompting concerns about vigilantism.
“Anytime there’s talk of vigilantism, that’s a concern for police,” says Halifax RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae.
“Police certainly will not stand for or accept any form of inappropriate talk or behaviour against any individual.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl