WARNING: Some details of this story may be disturbing to readers. Discretion Advised.
Ninth-grader Janice Xie said she had just met her friends for lunch on Thursday when an older student came up behind her and pushed her.
It was the start of an allegedly brutal assault that left the 14-year-old girl unconscious on the steps of Hugh Boyd High School in Richmond, BC Xie was hospitalized.
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“I hope nothing like this happens to anyone else,” she said, sitting next to her father, Tim Sorenson. “Just because you hear something doesn’t mean it’s real.”
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Xie said that the older student believed that she spread a rumor about the feelings between him and another girl. She was confused, she added, because she hadn’t really talked to him before and she had no idea who she liked.
According to reports, after he pushed her, Xie said he followed her while his friends tried to stop him. Eventually, the group sat down to eat on the front steps of the school.
That’s when he came running, she said.
“My friends were trying to stop it, but they couldn’t. I tried to defend myself but they knocked me out. I don’t remember what happened after that.”
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Xie said she knows she was punched in the side of the head and her friends told her the student kept kicking and punching her after she passed out. When she woke up, she said that she was still by the stairwell, surrounded by teachers and lifeguards.
“I was really scared, I couldn’t breathe, I was hyperventilating,” she said.
“Knowing that I passed out and it was still attacking me, and it happened at school, it’s scary to think about it and to think about going back to school.”
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Xie said the teachers called 911 and did their best to write down what had happened before paramedics took her to the hospital. However, Xie’s parents were not called right away, according to her father.
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Sorenson said he was working from his home office when his wife started receiving text messages from Xie’s friends telling her what happened about an hour after the alleged assault. They also received a call from Xie’s younger sister.
“We got the call, dropped everything, got in the car and went to school,” he said. “When I see her lying on the ground… So many thoughts went through my head. At that moment I was furious.”
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Sorenson said she understands school staff may have been busy right now, but she should have gotten a call sooner.
“How can we fix this?” she asked. “The only person (at the school) that I spoke to said that the staff was busy trying to get the child back and also dealing with all the other students.”
In an emailed statement, Richmond School District No. 38 did not address the gap between the alleged attack and contact with Xie’s parents. He confirmed that the male student is not attending school at this time and that the Richmond RCMP is investigating the incident.
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“As indicated in the Richmond School District Code of ConductThe Board of Education recognizes its obligation to all members of the school community to provide a positive climate and a safe and healthy environment,” David Sadler, director of communications and marketing, wrote in the statement.
“To that end, all members of the school community are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical and legal manner that demonstrates respect for themselves, others, property and the environment.”
Sadler said the district communicates regularly with Xie’s parents, provides additional advice to the school community and will continue to ensure the district’s code of conduct, regulations and guidelines are implemented.
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In its own written statement, the Richmond RCMP said it cannot provide details about an alleged assault at a local high school due to the nature of the investigation, including privacy concerns under the Juvenile Criminal Justice Act.
“We recognize the potential impact that a situation like this can have within the school community,” wrote Cpl. Adriana O’Malley.
“We want to assure the public that we are working together with the Richmond School District to ensure the safety and well-being of those directly involved, as well as the school community at large.”
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Meanwhile, Xie said his CT scan at the hospital is clear and he will spend several days resting and icing his head and face to bring down the swelling. She was cleared to return to school on Monday, but she said she might need more time.
Sorenson said he is proud of his daughter’s courage and composure during the incident.
“I’m really happy that she’s the kind of person that she is because she’s not an instigator, and she’s definitely a tough person, that’s for sure,” he told Global News.
“I’m still completely upset about the whole thing so I really want her to feel safe at school and I want my other daughter to feel safe at the same school. I hope there can be some way to make the school safer for all children.”
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