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Deadly Playfulness - The Real Face of Bullying
By Rosie K., Age 17, Seycove Secondary, Vancouver, BC

For some boys, turning 14 is a monumental stage, also referred to as ‘entering manhood'. But Alec Thom of Vancouver would never know how that feels, because he died before his 14th birthday, running away from boys who were threatening to light firecrackers at him.

When Alec was taken to hospital after collapsing and vomiting, he told his grandmother that "two boys chased me and kept on throwing firecrackers at me. I asked them to stop but they wouldn't stop, they kept on chasing me". He died of heart failure. But according to the police, the boys joked about throwing a firecracker at Alec but never chased him. The police state ‘there was no bullying or physical assault' - that no criminal wrongdoing was involved.

Criminal wrongdoing in what sense? There might not have been any physical assault, but what about verbal assault? The boy who made the comment about lighting firecrackers was quoted saying "I'm 12, that's what kids do. We say stuff and we play".

Excuse me, Mr. 12-year-old, but I see nothing funny or playful in threatening to throw crackling and explosive material in someone's face. In fact I find it frightening.

Mr. Dave Derpak, principal of the high school Alec attended, says that Alec was never bullied at school (yet a PAC chairman of Alec's elementary school says the boys who threatened Alec have bullied him in the past). Derpak also states that Alec had a secret heart condition that he could've died from at any anytime. What he forgets to mention is activity such as running 60 blocks for his life, away from those harassing him, could prove fatal to someone who has a heart condition. It did for Alec.

Maybe Alec really could've died anytime. But that also means he could've died later, after living as an extra special boy and as a grown, responsible man as his grandmother recalls. Maybe he could've been so many things, but we will never know, because the deadly playfulness of 12-year-olds and the irresponsible apathy of adults, left him silent and dead.

"Teen Dies of Heart Failure After Running from Bullies", Vancouver Sun, November 3, 2003
"Boy Bullied to Death, Family Insists", Vancouver Sun, November 4, 2003


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