Two Vancouver parents are suing an all-girls private school, claiming their daughter has been viciously bullied by classmates for years and calling on the federal government to ban social media apps that serve as “a breeding ground for hate.”
Natalie and Uwe Boll, both restaurateurs and filmmakers, have filed a civil claim against Crofton House in connection to a string of alleged incidents between their daughter and another student that have gone on for two years.
In an online petition, Natalie Boll said her daughter, now in Grade 8, has received anonymous messages on the social media apps Tellonym and YOLO telling her to kill herself and “drink bleach,” and threatening gang rape.
|A message allegedly received by a B.C. girl who attended Crofton House, an all-girl private school in Vancouver. (Natalie Boll/Change.org)|
The bullying came to a head at the beginning of the school year, she said, when the girl overdosed on Xanax in a school washroom. She was later admitted to BC Children’s Hospital on two occasions for self-harming related behaviour, Natalie said, and attends a different school.
The Bolls claim Crofton House, which teaches pre-school to Grade 12, did not do enough to intervene amid spiraling racism, bullying and homophobia.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Once a parent called me from my daughter’s school @Crofton_House. Your daughter is like a wounded animal, & the girls bullying her are like sharks seeing blood. That’s why she is getting attacked. I am surprised your daughter doesn’t fight back? #school #bully #timetotalk pic.twitter.com/wqJTUNICXr
— Natalie Boll (@NatalieLizBoll) December 14, 2019
In a statement to Black Press Media, head of school Ena Harrop said she does not agree with the characterization of events as portrayed in the lawsuit, and that the school plans to defend itself.
“While the school cannot share information on specific incidents, investigations, or members of our community, the concerns raised were thoroughly investigated, including working with our Vancouver Police Department liaison officer, and where warranted, actions were taken in line with our code of conduct,” Harrop said.
She added that the school’s curriculum includes lessons on bullying and cyber safety, and that teachers regularly talk with students about the impact of negative social interactions in person and online.
Mom wants social media apps banned
Natalie’s petition calls on the federal government to ban the two social media apps, saying no child should be subject to that type of harassment.
“Both the Apple App Store and Google Play have policies against bullying and harassment, and our Canadian government spends thousands of dollars on anti-bullying campaigns and mental health for our children,” the petition reads.
As of Wednesday morning, the petition had received about 450 signatures.
In a similar case in Australia, Apple and Google dropped the hugely popular social media app Sarahah after a mother said it helped facilitate bullying.
Can’t comment on NewsClick’s China link, respect media freedom: US
The US government has seen reports of NewsClick’s alleged links to China and is aware of concerns around it though it can’t independently comment on the veracity of those claims. But, as a general principle, the US continues to urge Indian government as well other governments across the world to respect the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression online and offline.
At a regular State Department briefing on Tuesday, when asked about the raids on the proprietors, staffers and contributors of NewsClick and a New York Times report that the news website was a part of a Chinese influence operation funded through an American businessman, State department‘s principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “So we are aware of those concerns and have seen that reporting about this outlet’s ties to the PRC (People’s Republic of China), but we can’t comment yet on the veracity of those claims.”
Patel added that, separately, the US strongly supported “the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy”.
“We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian Government, with countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements that are, of course, at the core of our bilateral relationship. And we have urged the Indian Government, and have done so not just with India but other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline.”
Patel, however, said that he did not have any additional information about “this particular circumstance or any of the underlying issues that may or may not be related to this outlet”.
India’s Latest Media Arrests Put Washington in an Awkward Spot
(Bloomberg) — India’s latest media crackdown puts the US in an awkward position as it seeks to balance promotion of human rights with courting New Delhi to counter the influence of China.
Police in the South Asian country’s capital arrested the editor-in-chief and another employee of online newspaper NewsClick Tuesday under sweeping anti-terrorism laws. Authorities also raided the offices of the publication, without giving a reason.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been targeting critical independent media since he took office in 2014. NewsClick came to prominence in 2021 for its extensive coverage of farmer protests against government plans to liberalize agriculture. India has previously accused the media organization of having funding ties to China, which it denies.
For Arati Jerath, a New Delhi-based political analyst, the arrests create a challenge for Washington.
“The US does not want to get too involved in India’s domestic affairs,” she said. “They are looking at India through a geopolitical prism and with China in the picture, India is a strategic partner.”
US Department of State spokesman Vedant Patel said he couldn’t comment yet on claims NewsClick has ties to China.
Patel also stressed the importance of press freedom globally. “We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, with countries around the world,” he told reporters in Washington.
India has often argued its democracy and vibrant press are a counterpoint to China with its one-party state and heavily controlled media. The US frequently finds itself torn between its efforts to defend human rights around the world and the pragmatic need to partner with governments accused of rights abuses.
India’s government has often used its anti-terrorism law to intimidate and punish journalists. The law, which doesn’t allow for bail, empowers the police to detain suspects for years without leveling official charges.
India has also scrutinized many mobile app and technology companies for alleged links to China after a Himalayan border clash between New Delhi and Beijing in 2020.
In 2021, authorities raided NewsClick’s office and the homes of seven staff members for what they described as improper foreign investments. Several of them were questioned and NewsClick called the allegations “misleading, unfounded and without basis in fact or law.”
In August, the New York Times cited NewsClick as an organization allegedly being used for Chinese propaganda overseas. India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said at the time the media outlet was being funded by Beijing.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Thakur said he didn’t need to justify the raids. “If someone has done something wrong, the investigative agencies will work on it,” he said.
NewClick’s human resources head Amit Chakravarty was also arrested. Several employees’ laptops and mobile phones were seized. Local media reported at least 30 premises were raided, including the homes of six NewsClick reporters.
India fell to 161st of 180 countries and territories in a press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, a press advocacy group, this year. In February, authorities raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi, weeks after the British broadcaster aired a documentary about Modi’s role in 2002 riots in his home state of Gujarat.
Last year, Mohammad Zubair, a journalist running a fact-checking website, Alt News, was arrested after highlighting anti-Islamic comments made by former BJP officials.
The Press Club of India expressed concern about the arrests and raid, saying it wants the government to explain its actions. The group plans to protest the detentions at a march Wednesday.
Jerath, the analyst, questioned India’s move to arrest the people under the terrorism law without providing details or evidence.
“You have already labeled them as terrorists,” she said.
(Updates with details on the crackdown. An earlier story corrected paragraph 11 to show authorities raided the homes of seven NewsClick staff members in 2021.)
What is NewsClick? A look at India’s media crackdown – Al Jazeera English
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