Pallbearers load the casket of Devan Bracci-Selvey at Stoney Creek United Church in Hamilton, Ont., Saturday, October 12, 2019. Bracci-Selvey died in hospital on October 7 after he was fatally stabbed behind Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. An 18-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy have been charged with first-degree murder in his death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

Hearing about the stabbing death of a 14-year-old boy outside a school in Hamilton has Darrel Crimeni grappling with questions of bullying and a lack of empathy that may also have played a role when his grandson’s overdose was filmed and posted on social media.

Crimeni said Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly. On the day he died in August, Carson’s family believes he overdosed after he was given drugs by others who wanted to share his reaction at a skate park in Langley on the internet.

Now, Crimeni is thinking of Devan Bracci-Selvey’s family in Hamilton, knowing they too are struggling to understand their loss, allegedly at the hands of a student who stabbed the boy in front of his mother outside of their school.

“My heart goes out to the mother,” Crimeni said.

A girl who saw a meme of his grandson in distress on Snapchat told her mother and was instructed to call police, but by the time officers arrived the crowd had dispersed, Crimeni said, adding he found Carson half a kilometre away at a sports park in Langley about two hours later. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

Crimeni said students like his grandson, who had learning challenges, feel particularly unsafe at school because of bullies who are often known to administrators but face little or no consequences.

READ MORE: Fundraiser launched for family of teen found dead at skateboard park

“They’ve got to pay more attention to bullying, they really do. They have Pink Shirt Day every February and it doesn’t seem to be doing much,” he said of the annual event aimed at drawing attention to bullying.

In Bracci-Selvey’s case, first-degree murder charges have been laid against an 18-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy. But no one has been charged in Crimeni’s death as police continue to investigate.

Shari-Ann Bracci-Selvey has blamed the system for failing to protect her son from “bullies” who she said made his first month of school a nightmare, saying everyone — from the school he attended to his own family — let him down.

Shelley Morse, president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, said she was shocked at the level of violence after she returned to the classroom following four years at the helm of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union.

“We had students beating other students up. The playground was not a fun place. We had students whose anxiety was so high they wouldn’t come to school because of fear of the violence that was at our school,” said Morse, who retired in June after 35 years in teaching.

“If I was a parent, I’d be alarmed at what my child may be witnessing at school,” she said. “And it’s not just here, it’s all across Canada.”

Morse said school violence will only increase as children using social media learn early on to hide behind a screen while watching negative behaviour and joining in with others who may be posting similar content.

Bullies have the upper hand when school boards don’t back administrators if parents use an appeal process to object to consequences such as suspensions, she said, adding education ministries and departments are also not providing schools with enough tools to try and curb violence.

Morse said the violence she saw when she returned to teaching had her persuading the principal to work with her to adopt a philosophy that made a huge difference.

The hallmarks of the Positive Effective Behaviour Supports philosophy, which Morse believes was first used in the United States, involve teaching students empathy, compassion and responsibility.

“We went from having 20 kids sitting in the office waiting for someone to talk to them to, in 15 weeks, down to one or two students and some days none. And that has carried through because we taught the kids how to be kind, we taught them there would be consequences for being unkind, for being disrespectful. New students, all they knew was a culture of respect and kindness.”

As part of the approach, students were rewarded with a blue ticket for good behaviour, which could include reporting potentially dangerous situations against their peers as part of the “be an upstander, not a bystander” motto they learned.

“They would put the tickets into a draw and once a week we would make a draw for a pizza party and you got to have a pizza party and invite seven of your friends and go to a separate room to eat,” Morse said, adding prizes included movie tickets, with donations from community organizations.

“It was amazing to watch the transformation in that school and even the parents coming to us and saying, ‘I can’t believe how great it is. My child, who has anxiety, now wants to be in school.’”

READ MORE: How to talk to kids about B.C.’s overdose crisis

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in Nova Scotia said the Positive Effective Behaviour Supports philosophy is used in some schools, but various regions use strategies that “best serve the needs of their local students and classrooms.”

Morse said parents concerned about violence need to step up if schools aren’t providing violence-prevention strategies.

“It’s time for parents to demand action.”

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni to review 2020 budget in response to COVID-19

Deadline for final budget adoption is May 15

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID 19: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, other First Nations mobilize resources

Some Indigenous communities are enacting emergency measures to cope during pandemic

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Government has signed deals with three companies

World COVID-19 updates: Putin may be exposed; 30,000 prisoners released

Comprehensive news update from around the world as of Tuesday, March 31.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

‘This is no joke’: B.C. woman in Alberta hospital asks people to stay home during COVID-19

‘I want people to start listening to what the doctors are saying. This is no joke, please stay home’

Rest stops barring washroom access to truckers a ‘huge problem’ as COVID-19 spreads

Teamsters Canada says truckers are increasingly being denied warm meals

Canadians asked to wash mailboxes, keep dogs at bay, to ensure safe mail delivery

Four postal workers in Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 infection:

Hospitality workers hit ‘first and hit hardest,’ says union seeking more support

Union represents workers in hotels, casinos, airports, arenas, universities, schools and remote resource camps

Most Read