Note to readers: This is a blog. Many of the postings here can be classified as rants, opinion pieces. The information below comes from primary sources and reliable news sources. If you have information that challenges what’s written here, please provide it. I welcome constructive criticism but I refuse to publish defamatory and insulting comments.
A few months ago his brutal lunchtime beating made headlines. Marshall Brooks is a 17-year-old student at Westwood Senior High School in Hudson, Quebec. He’s the son of my friend Tina Brooks. Considering the severity of a beating he suffered, he’s been healing well. But who knows what will happen now that the school and school board have stepped in with what seems to be a misguided “solution.”
In April Marshall’s whole life changed when he was attacked during lunch hour just outside school grounds. For months another boy at the school accused Marshall of having stolen something of his and said Marshall owed him money. When Marshall didn’t pay up, he was reportedly invited by the accuser to a fight. The day of the fight Marshall was caught unawares but classmates were alerted about the “event” through Facebook, Twitter (and probably through texts). From what I understand of what happened, Marshall was escorted against his will to the fight by the accuser’s friends. When challenged to fight Marshall reportedly put his hands in his pockets though apparently he did hit his attacker once.
The attacker was far bigger than Marshall and one of his blows shattered the orbital floor around Marshall’s left eye, his cheekbone was broken in two places. Bystanders reported hearing a “crunch” sound when Marshall eye socket was destroyed.
While more than 50 classmates looked on, many used their phones to videotape the fight (some posted it online). Only one student dared phone 911 though this was not mentioned in early reports about the incident.
Marshall had to have reconstructive surgery and there’s now a metal plate replacing part of his eye socket. It’s still too early to know what’s happening with the eyesight in his left eye, whether he’s suffered neurological damage or will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the fight.
Only the attacker has ever been charged in the incident.
What did Westwood High and the Lester B. Pearson School Board do? Three weeks before graduation they order Marshall and everyone else involved to attend some YMCA workshops.
This would mean Marshall would have to sit with the very classmates who did nothing and with the people who escorted him to the fight to learn about how students should take action when they see someone being hurt.
His mother, Tina Brooks, has said she’s concerned Marshall will be suspended if he refuses to attend the YMCA workshops. He had a doctor’s note to miss the first one but who knows what will happen next.
It’s too bad the school board didn’t invite Barbara Coloroso to address the students. For a situation like this you need someone who understands the dynamics of schoolyard fights and the way high school students think.
I don’t know much about the YMCA’s workshops. I don’t think telling teenagers to be nice to one another is going to cut it. And why would you expect the victim to participate?
This morning Tina Brooks spoke to CBC Radio Montreal’s Daybreak show, as did a commissioner from the Lester B. Pearson School Board. I will link to the interviews as soon as they’re posted.
UPDATE: You’ll find the interviews here.